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This presentation is an introduction to 3D virtual environments teaching. I will go over the basics of how an avatar-based 3D virtual world can be used in the classroom to improve engagement, cooperation, critical thinking, motivation and digital citizenship skills.
The document below was provided as a handout. It is a summary version of Global Kids, Inc’s Best Practices in Using Virtual Worlds for Education (see the original http://olpglobalkids.org/pdfs/BestPractices.pdf). Check the full version online for detailed info in each section.
A. Best practices for working in a VW
1. What happens in your VW stays in your VW
2. Create multiple places of meaning
3. If you build it, they will come
4. Go beyond your VW
5. Use real world content when addressing real world issues
6. Don’t wait until someone has the floor to start typing
7. Don’t fear multiple communication channels.
8. Carefully design and build the tools required.
9. Ensure the program is designed for the recruited participants
B. Best practices for bringing a class into a VW
1. Build, build, build!
2. Don’t just build; design and manipulate avatars.
3. Think globally, act locally.
4. Know when your students know best
5. Employ effective, rigorous, targeted recruitment.
6. Replace the dominant VE culture with your own.
7. Support emerging leadership
C. Best practices using a VW for real world education
1. Playground versus Workplace
3. Collaboration and Cross-functional Teams
4. Social Networking
5. Recognize and Support Skill Stratification
6. Teacher becomes Facilitator, Student becomes Peer Mentor
7. Scale Projects to Fit Resources
8. Situate your VW within a Larger Internet Ecology
9. Leverage In-world Resources
10. When Technology Fails, Know When To Move On
11. Time is Relative
12. Distance Learning Tool
D. Best practices for bringing content into a VW
1. Interactive workshops
2. Photo shows
3. Scavenger hunts
5. Building contests
6. Guest speakers
7. Movie screenings
8. Role play
10. T-shirts and accessories
11. Panel discussions and debates
12. Create machinima
A Guide to Using Problem-Based Learning in Second Life
Scilands Best Practices in Education Panel and Discussion
KZero Worldswide (ref. Virtual Worlds maps)
The Blue Book: A Consumer Guide to Virtual Worlds (11/17/2010 just released by the Association of Virtual Worlds)
Virtual World Kits
Activeworlds Software Development Kit >> http://www.activeworlds.com/products/download.asp
Edusim (for the classroom interactive whiteboard) >> http://edusim.ning.com/
Jibe >> http://jibemix.com/
OpenSimulator >> http://opensimulator.org/wiki/Main_Page
Unity3D >> http://unity3d.com/
…among others. Shop around. Some are free downloads, others are commercial products. Check the specs for each, ask for recommendations based on your virtual world project, and triple check the company’s customer support and if there is any special attention catering to educators. Virtual world kits are not made equal and some are just simply not designed for first users/creators without programming knowledge.
Another option is to shop around the current worlds which already cater to educators (3rd Rock Grid, Reaction Grid, ScienceSim…) or use online worlds relevant to your students’ age group and your discipline content (e.g., kidscom.com for health, ecology, and global awareness).