Real Education in Virtual Worlds that Will Blow Your Mind

When I say “virtual world,” what do you think about?  To me, images of Star Trek’s “Holodeck” or the X-men’s “Danger Room” come to mind; in the “real world” I might point to World of Warcraft or Second Life (“SL”).  Most of us would say those are just “games” and conclude that “virtual world” = video game, but as the videos below will show, there is a whole new pedagogical (strategy of instruction) approach to using virtual words to learn in the real world.  Applications run the gamut of teaching a class about history, art, or science, to training a sales team about a new product.  I want to give a shout out to eLearning blog for posting about these videos in the first place – check ’em out:

Overview of educational use and applications – shows how universities can use SL to teach history, art, psychology, drama, and social science.

Science learning – shows an exercise where students can enter a cell, explore, and then find the exacitic vesticle to exit the cell.  It also shows an interactive tour through an anatomic model with a real beating heart (wonder what they could do with the brain after the brain map project is complete in 2011?).

Sales Rep Training – shows how a company can train sales reps on the intricacies of a product, in this case a drill.  Best feature of all?  You can tell when participants aren’t engaging in the learning activities of the demo or following the speaker b/c their avatar will “fall asleep” – what a useful thing for law school classes!

Edtech.Boisestate.edu – shows a training ground for educators who want to get started in virtual pedagogy, (I definitely want to check out learning a new language – here they show French).

There is so much potential here, especially as worlds like Second Life become easier to build in and more accepted as a medium for communication.  What can publishers, educators, students, and others do to make this a meaningful tool and not just some gimmick?

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