Teaching and Learning in Virtual Worlds
Since the launch of SL, institutions are beginning to take a second look at SL’s capabilities and how they can be beneficial. Corporations are now utilizing SL for virtual teaming, scientific research, virtual tours, and virtual role-playing. In the educational field, creating virtual classrooms to enhance distance-learning environments is just one way some universities are evaluating and implementing SL. Schools such as Harvard, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and Stanford have developed university tours within SL for potential students to visit the campus virtually. This is a great first step that introduces SL to students, allowing them the opportunity to learn about it firsthand.
Imagine taking a distance-learning art history course and participating with your class within an SL classroom environment. Your instructor then transports her classmates to a virtual museum for a tour of fine art. Each room displays art created by famous historical artists such a Monet, Michelangelo, Picasso, Van Gogh, and Da Vinci. As a virtual student you listen carefully, observing each piece of art while taking notes, because at the end of the tour, you are transported back into your virtual classroom to take a quiz based on the lecture during the tour. It’s much more interesting than looking at artwork in a book or on a website; don’t you think? Virtual worlds offer the reality absent from a distance-learning forum. Creating a multidimensional learning experience using virtual worlds offers the stimulation needed to acquire and retain the attention of today’s students.
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