Time-to-Adoption Horizon: One Year or Less
Time-to-Adoption Horizon: Two to Three Years
Time-to-Adoption Horizon: Four to Five Years
Virtual worlds are richly immersive and highly scalable 3D environments created on computers and computer networks. People enter these worlds as an avatar, and move their avatar through the space as if they were physically walking — or in some cases, flying. The most popular virtual worlds are multi-user spaces, meaning that many people can be in the same virtual space and interact with one another in real time. While many popular games take place in virtual worlds, virtual worlds are not themselves games. Pure virtual worlds like Second Life® can be applied to any context, as opposed to game worlds, which generally have a fixed, goal-oriented purpose. It is quite common to find professional development activities like conferences and meetings taking place in settings such as the virtual world of Second Life and other venues. Among the many avenues that are now being explored and developed in virtual worlds are alternative learning experiences that cannot be replicated in the real world, and how to use them to stimulate critical thinking, exploratory learning, and experimentation.
A wide range of interest groups has sprung up around teaching and learning in virtual worlds, offering opportunities for networked and informal learning both about virtual worlds themselves and about discipline-specific content. The Second Life in Education wiki, maintained by Jo Kay and Sean Fitzgerald, features a list of nearly 100 virtual worlds (active or in development) and links to a wide range of virtual world projects and resources. These spaces are used to train emergency response personnel, develop civic participation and leadership skills, visualize real time weather data, model complex mathematical functions, experiment with architectural models, and much more. Courses from dozens of disciplines are making use of virtual worlds at hundreds of colleges and universities.
Relevance for Teaching, Learning & Creative Expression
- Virtual worlds have obvious application for distance learning, connecting far-flung learning communities with each other and with expertise that may not be readily accessible locally.
- Flexible learning spaces, simulations, and alternative experiences allow students to take part in activities that are difficult to host in real-life classrooms, such as managing mental health or drug issues as a social worker, or touring a working industrial plant.
- Virtual worlds provide a rich environment for scenario-based learning, allowing learners to interact with – or even construct – places and objects of historical or scientific significance.
- Skoolaborate is providing a safe environment for schools from around the world to explore global understanding and learn from each other in order to improve education for all: http://www.skoolaborate.com
- The Virtual Classroom Project at Jokaydia in Second Life is providing a platform for educators to experiment with designing spaces for learning: http://jokaydia.com/jokaydia-projects/virtual-classroom-project/
- Several New Zealand institutions share an island in Second Life, Koru, that is populated with native plants and animals and used for teaching: http://arwennastardust.wordpress.com/about/
- The next iteration of the web is here, in Melbourne Australia, ExitReality is a free internet plug-in that allows anyone to view every web page in 3D: http://http://www.exitreality.com/
For Further Reading
The Metaverse Journal
The Metaverse Journal is devoted to reporting news, projects, events, and other items on the subject of virtual worlds — with a uniquely “down under” perspective.
Second Classroom is an online community dedicated to exploring the ways that educators can use immersive media such as Second Life, multiplayer online games, and social networks with students to create authentic learning.
Sandbox Discussion (July-August 2008)
Over the past few years, experiments in using immersive online environments — virtual worlds — for educational purposes have revealed that 3D spaces have a clear application for teaching and learning. It is quite common to find professional development activities like conferences and meetings taking place in settings such as the virtual world of Second Life. Use of these spaces to replicate real-world locations for exploration and discovery is also well-established. The arena that is now being explored and developed is the use of these spaces for content delivery to students: not to replicate the experience of sitting at a desk in a classroom, but to provide alternative experiences that cannot be created in the real world, but that stimulate critical thinking, exploratory learning, and experimentation.
Why is this topic relevant to teaching, learning or creative expression?
- Addresses needs to connect learners at a distance and to bring in expertise and content not readily accessible in many areas.
- Provides opportunity for real time interaction, simulation, and experiences that many students might not be able to get where they live or in a classroom setting.
- Creates more engaging environments for people to share experiences and socially construct their learning
- Platforms such as Second Life have wide range of interest groups that offer opportunities for networked and informal learning
- Collaborative drawing tool useful for expressing ideas such as in design and architecture studies. Relates to point above.
- Based on a games interface that many users are already familiar with
- Does not require deep level of traditional literacy
- Mirrors increased dependence on the visual image happening in society-at-large
- Very engaging – makes work seem like play
- Corporate world has already entered this space and seems prepared to invest in developing their presence there
- Existence of a legitimate inworld currencies entices people to stay longer and explore possibilities of inworld employment
- Allows people to take on other personas, enact fantasies much more than text based simulate environments
- Rich environment for scenario based learning – eg teaching history using a model of a medieval village
- Enables informal and formal learning across multiple institutions and even sectors of education and training where stuctures (eg assessment, accreditation) encourage flexible opportunities for learners.
- The environment encourages learning to be interactive rather than passive.
- The environment requires the practice of teaching to combine new and existing theories of learning resulting in (new)digital pedagogies.
- Able to create learning environemnts and interations that allow the learner to experince situations that are not able to be easily or authentically be reproduced in a real classroom such as experiencing and managing mental health or drug issues as a social worker.
- Students who struggle socially are shining in a new environment that allows them to express their technical abilities and shed inhibitions and stigmatism that has been placed on them in their home school environments due to those technical abilities..
- 3D is the next iteration of the web. By providing opportunities for students to explore these environments we will give them and advantage as they develop the understanding needed to participate in the most dominant communication tool of their world [LJ]
Please list links to local or international projects that are experimenting with or implementing this technology.
- University of Technology Sydney: PhD candidate Roman DanylakI designed, built and evaluated an immersive gestural environment. <www.youtube.com/watch?v=jKNvSpXG0Z0> for a video sample [SA]
- Queensland University of Technology's Dr Steve Dillon and Andrew Brown have developed Networked Jamming is a proof of concept model of a networked creative environment based on their jam2jam software . The project is developing an existing jam2jam system for music collaboration. Jamming software communicates over a network enabling users to be involved in interactive music jams with their friends. http://www.explodingart.com/jam2jam.html [SA]
- Paul Bourke <email@example.com> of the University of Western Australia works on virtual environments. Projects include visualisation of geometry rich datasets. These are datasets that one wishes to view in their entirety in order to detect global structure but for which there is more data than available pixels. Paul also develops immersive displays for virtual reality style environments/experiences. http://ozviz.wasp.uwa.edu.au/~pbourke/ University of New South Wales is also collaborating with Paul http://www.icinema.unsw.edu.au/projects/infra_dome.html* RMIT SecondLife "RMIT University is today opening the doors to its island in Second Life, showcasing the work of its students as it marks its 120th anniversary." http://tinyurl.com/56rpz9 [SA]
- Skoolaborate http://www.skoolaborate.com "This Australian led initiative has grown to be the largest 'school based' initiative world wide. 20 schools and educational organisations collaborate and explore what engages students in these environments. Our mission is to improve educational outcomes for all." [WF]
- Koru "Koru is an island (or sim) in Second Life owned by Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology, Nelson, New Zealand. Several other NZ educational institutes including, Weltec, Open Polytechnic of NZ, UCoL and Massey University share the island and are e'school based' virtual worlds initiative world wide.xploring various aspects of the educational possibilities offered by an immersive virtual ‘world’." http://arwennastardust.wordpress.com/about/
- Jokaydia http://jokaydia.com Projects http://jokaydia.com/jokaydia-projects/ [JK]
- The Islands of jokaydia Community of Practice is planning an In-World Unconference http:// jokaydia.wikispaces.com/jokaydiaUnconference
- Virtual Classroom Project "The purpose of the Virtual Classroom project is to provide a platform for educators to experiment with designing spaces for learning." http://jokaydia.com/jokaydia-projects/virtual-classroom-project/
- Pulsar Project http://pulsarproject.wordpress.com/
- Terra Incognita "University of Southern Queensland is first Australian University presence" http://www.metaversejournal.com/2007/01/29/university-of-southern-queensland-is-1st-aus-uni-sl-presence/
- NMIT in New Zealand awarded a $500 000 grant to research educational application of Multi User Virtual Environments, focusing on SecondLife
- GippsTAFE has undertaken several Virtual Worlds projects and have developed some interesting vocational education models http://dspace.flexiblelearning.net.au/dspace/bitstream/10165/3222/1/VIRTUAL_WEB_FINAL.pdf
- Demonstration of a virtual reality surgical simulator using 3D virtual reality and haptic instruments for training surgeons http://www.muves.unimelb.edu.au/
- Two pointers to projects on health and health care education uses of SL https://lists.secondlife.com/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/healthcare and http://simteach.com/wiki/index.php?title=Health_Education
- 'Riverbend': An Interdisciplinary Virtual Fieldsite for Training Social Science Practitioners Dr Lesley Jolly (UQ)
- Advanced immersive learning environment for process engineering - Prof Ian Cameron http://lsn.curtin.edu.au/tlf/tlf2007/refereed/cameron.html
- A trial project being conducted by Canberra Inst Technology and funded through the Australian Fleaxible Learning Framework investigating virtual worlds http://eduversal-studios.wikispaces.com/
- add your project link here [LJ]
Please provide links to any local or international reports, papers, or articles that either help define the topic, or that provide detailed information about it.
- Australian Educational Institutions: what are they thinking now? (Metaverse Journal) http://www.metaversejournal.com/2008/06/24/australian-educational-institutions-what-are-they-thinking-now/
- E-Standards Expert Group report on E-Portfolios http://e-standards.flexiblelearning.net.au/news.htm#a5
- Second Classroom [RSS]
- RezEd: http://www.rezed.org The Hub for Learning and Virtual Worlds will be developed to
serve as an online hub to promote the use of virtual worlds as rich learning environments. The participating community will share best practices, encourage dialogue, provide access to the leading research, provide podcast interviews with community leaders, and feature the latest news on learning in virtual worlds [WF]
Please add any other information that may be helpful to the staff as they write up this topic.
- MacBeth project [RSS]
- Metaverse Journal "a site devoted to bringing an Australian perspective to virtual worlds." http://www.metaversejournal.com/
- AFTRS LAMP (Australian Film TV and Radio School Laboratory for Advanced Media Production) Virtual Worlds http://lamp.edu.au/category/virtual-worlds/
- add your idea or information here [LJ]