Archive for November, 2012

Virtual Environments

Saturday, November 3rd, 2012

I was apprehensive about this week’s topic of virtual environments.  I have no experience with multiuser virtual environments (MUVEs).  The first thing that popped into my head was the news story of a South Korean couple charged with starving their infant daughter as they devoted hours to raising their virtual baby online.  I always associated MUVEs with people trying to escape reality and certainly never considered its educational potential.  With this as my starting point, Dr. Coffman and Solomon & Schrum had their work cut out for them in convincing me that MUVEs deserve a place in the education of our children.

I was very surprised to find my attitude regarding MUVEs completely altered after this week’s assignments.  After reading and exploring several MUVEs, including the River City Project, I am convinced that MUVEs offer a different type of learning environment that can benefit students.  There are two features of MUVEs that I found to be most compelling.  First is the collaborative nature of the program.  Students must work together to solve complex problems.  Second is the potential for MUVEs to help underperforming students reach their potential.   A MUVE, if probably implemented, can help develop the ability to think critically and creatively.  It is important the the MUVE not take the place of instruction.  Rather it should complement other forms of instruction such as field trips, labs, lectures (Dede).  I spent a lot of time investigating how MUVEs can be implemented in science curriculum through the River City Project.  However I can see also potential for the use of MUVEs in the arts and social sciences.  Students can experience life as a journalist, scientist, judge, or engineer.   Although I did not see too many applications for the primary grades, the opportunities for older students are tremendous.

References

Dede, C. (n.d.). River city a research-based movie [Web]. Retrieved from http://muveb.gse.harvard.edu/~muvers/rivercityvideos/H264%20web/RC%20Project-pro-RC%20Full%20Sequence.mov