Tuesday, January 17, 2012

“Possible, Probable, and Preferable Future of Education in Virtual Worlds”

Location: VWER Meeting

Every year, I look forward to this event. In 2009, it is where I first met AJ Kelton and many of the folks to whom I later became close colleagues. The full transcript of the meeting can be found here. It's full of good advice and links for educators.

Now that Iggy, my avatar, has turned five years old (500 years in SL time) it's informative for me to compare the notes by our panel of experts who met on January 5 with my own youthful enthusiasm from 2007.  This year our panelists were not grim, but they advised diversity and moving past a focus solely upon Second Life. Sarah Smith-Robbins, who could not attend our meeting but has been a regular in years past, has a worthwhile and detailed assessment of the situation, "Are Virtual Worlds (Still) Relevant in Education?"

Our answers will differ. For me, "yes, when I again teach a course using 3D simulations, probably in two years."

As readers ponder their own uses of the technology, consider these predictions and observations:
  • All of the panelists felt it had been a hard year for educators in Second Life, and that the sector has diminished as faculty look to alternatives that are cheaper and more autonomous of one company's control. 
  • Interest in other virtual worlds has not necessarily spiked at the universities represented by the panelists; budgetary issues and the rise of mobile technology have worked against the expansion of faculty and student use of virtual worlds.
  • Jokay Wollongong noted that more of her attention has gone to Minecraft, and that the SL presence for Jokaydia has diminished. In particular, the interaction of parents and their children in Minecraft has been transformative for her work in education
  • Ken Hubble, of the Canadian Border Crossing Project, will move his work from Second Life to Unity 3D. He prefers the interface and learning curve for Unity 3D, when designing simulations.
  • Anthony Fontana was more upbeat about technology, giving us three words: “gamification, mobile, and Web”
  • Wainbrave Bernal (Jonathon Richter) notes "I am seeing more researching into practice – applied research. . . . check out the ARVEL wiki for growing body of research in virtual worlds, augmented reality, and games – as well as emerging technology."
Despite a rough year behind us, none of the VWER guests were pessimistic. As Fleep Tuque (Chris Collins) notes about the year to come, "the focus will be less on a specific platform than on how we can bring together various technologies. My focus more on helping faculty and students learn."

And that sounds right to this blogger and educator.

1 comment:

NEO said...

I hope virtual worlds will grow in the future