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Since the prevalence of virtual worlds in society has grown exponentially in recent years and virtual worlds have demonstrated an incredible power to engage participants…
Since the prevalence of virtual worlds in society has grown exponentially in recent years and virtual worlds have demonstrated an incredible power to engage participants in ways in which traditional education has not, virtual worlds provide us an excellent opportunity to create engaging, collaborative, and academically challenging learning situations. Also, given the new media literacy of many of younger students, we in higher education are in many ways meeting them where they already are …or should be. By integrating virtual worlds into instruction, the Virtual Education Research Group (VERG) at Middlesex Community College in Massachusetts provides students with these collaborative experiences. Through a sustained community of practice and experimentation with a variety of virtual world platforms including ActiveWorlds, World of Warcraft, Warhammer, City of Heroes Architect, Forbidden City, and Second Life, some general principles and specific learning activities emerge for instructors integrating virtual worlds into the classroom. The basic concepts of connecting with technical and administrative support, choosing a world with thematic connections to your subject, creating scheduled opportunities to play and learn together, and committing to providing a strong online presence have been expanded upon to create a flexible model that can be applied across disciplines. Through the work of VERG at Middlesex Community College, virtual worlds are now used in a variety of instructional disciplines, ranging from humanities to psychology to business. Several case studies illustrating unique and effective practices are provided.
Youngkyun Baek is professor of educational technology at Boise State University, USA. He had been teaching since 1991 at Korea National University of Education. Previously, he worked at Korea Educational Development Institute. His research interests are on instructional games, simulation, and mobile devices in education. He has presented several papers at SITE, NECC, AERA, and OECD Expert Meeting on gaming and simulations. Recently, he published two books on educational games and wrote several book chapters. Now he is designing a social network game on global warming and doing a research on intrinsic motivational factors in instructional games.
The part covers the planning process from the perspective of the instructor. Our global set of authors span Europe, Asia, and the Americas. The principle concept is that the science of learning, the cybergogy, that has emerged in technologies like virtual worlds requires faculty to think in terms of learning archetypes. As faculty plan for activities and ways to manage attention in activity-based learning environments, they will think in terms of building around avatars, engaged in finding things, and responding to critical incidences. In doing so, teaching and learning grows around visual stimulation, engagement, collaborative motivation, personal interest, context in the subject matter, and “contemporarity” of the learning environment. The process for teaching in virtual worlds mirrors other emerging technology. Educators need to lead by example, using the technology themselves to build their expertise. They must garner support from their stakeholders and create and engage in professional development courses that focus on virtual worlds so they can prepare and be prepared for delivering in the environment.