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Virtual Worlds and Education Panel

This session, in addition to Raph’s talk, are the main draws for me at State of Play 09. Primarily because Jim Bower is on it. I was sitting with Jim for Raph’s talk, and as people sat down he warned “I might offend some of you, sitting at this table is risky”. Like Raph, I’m sure he’ll say some things that might ruffle some feathers…which is exactly what needs to happen at these academic-centric conferences.

Nice thing so far: panel is not limiting itself to VWs, but also including game people. Chen – author of the more recent “Serious Games: Games that educate, train, etc…” Comes from the gaming community, reaching across to education. Good to see people going this route vs. most people that go from education to the game industry (without really understanding it).

Dr. Rodenbacker (mispelled, I’m sure, can’t read the name tag from back here).
Bloom’s taxonomy – after the 2001 revise, it starts to align much better to virtual worlds.
Howard Gardner – theory of multiple intelligences about education. Also parrallels VWs.
Roger Callois – Types and structures of play. These are game-dominated theories, but they can be parallel to education and learning.
R. Bartle’s player type breakdown – again, these can be taken out of games and applied to classrooms. Students can break down into these roles within a classroom. Achievers, socializes, explorers and killers.

The good doctor now puts all this into a nice little grid. Will need to find this later on the web (assuming he has it out there somewhere). Old classroom theories + VW theories offer very interesting insights into engaging students.

Margaret Corbitt up now, got into this with VRML mid-90s. Spends most of her time in active worlds. Good focus – how do you help teachers structure 45-min lessons to bring into the classroom?
Sounds like Margaret has overcome a lot of challenges in implementation. How do you role this out in after-school programs in inner cities? Rooms where students must share computers? Training teachers to use this stuff effectively?
Live demos can be risky at events like this…

Ms. Turkay up, PhD student at Columbia’s teacher college. Created Teacher’s College island in SL. Worked with students at Columbia to work in SL. Students building in SL, exploring teaching possibilities in SL.

Jim B. up.
“This isn’t a Macintosh, this will go downhill…”
Inquiry based, scientific education in mid to late 1980s in Middle School.
This was NOT theoretical, it was real kids, with real teachers, in real classrooms TRYING new stuff.
Built a VW in 1986. Line of kids to use the hypercard VW was blocking access to the card catalog in the library, librarians wanted it out.
FUN is important!
Whyville will be at 25m in 9 months from now…with NO marketing or advertising. impressive.
Whyville has now generated a magazine that flows with the VW, in-use in various large cities on the west coast (LA, san fran)
Ran a contest for Clams (the currency in whyville) to get teachers to sign up to use Whyville. 2-week contest, winner in Texas got 600(!) teachers signed up to use Whyville. Mind boggling…a kid…in 2-weeks…signed up over 600 real teachers to start using whyville in the class.
Whyville going to be in 30 languages soon.
Whyville has an open-door policy in terms of researchers and data. Jim is more than happy to let researchers have full access to ALL the data for Whyville.
Blocking content in schools (blocking the web)
‘last i heard, cars are dangerous. People die in cars. I look outside of schools and they have parking lots. Under this logic, you should close your parking lots. Driver’s ed? Get rid of that too, cars are dangerous’.
This logic has to stop regarding school board’s and administrator’s need to control everything in the classroom. RE: net policy.
Theme of conference is plateau: VWs are on a plateau right now, dunno if we go up or down. Jim says that’s bullshit, we’re FINALLY just getting rid of the crap.
Learning in the VWs: “This is just HOW primates learn!” Schools have just been screwing it up over and over.
Interesting anecdote about kids getting suspended in elementary school. Kids then go home and play in whyville all day (with their friends, who ALSO got suspended). In a strange way, this works out. Kids are still learning (arguably better than in a classroom).

Have a great audience member (sounds like a teacher) giving a great, animated run down of WHY the school model is out of wack in terms of cost structures and delivery. Schools seem to be spending more and more money (costs increase to do things better) vs. learning in virtual worlds where things are heavily frontloaded but get cheaper and cheaper (big investment in design and development, but then costs significantly fade out).

Video games and education are both storyboarded.
This form of education (storyboarded) does not work. It’s more important to put the models and environments in place that allow the exploration and manipulation of environments.

What is the best educational software ever written, by leaps and bounds? Google search. period.

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  1. June 22nd, 2009 at 08:37 | #1

    Thanks for the write-up!

    It’s Dr. Ricardo Rademacher.

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