I was introduced to Second Life this semester for the first time. I have never even heard of it, let alone used it before. Immersive learning was not something that I was very familiar with. Being involved in this project has taught me a lot about immersive learning and the use of virtual worlds in an education setting.
My first impression of using virtual world for an education classroom was baffling to me. I could not comprehend what the purpose of creating a virtual world to use in your classroom would be. I am a certified health and physical education teacher, and maybe that would be why I would not really have a need to use a virtual world in my class. It would not be feasible for me to have my physical education classes participate in a virtual setting instead of actually participating in the activity or game planned for the day. It goes against my training to have students sit in front of a computer instead of moving around on their feet being active. And still, even after this assignment has concluded, I still don’t think that I will use virtual worlds in my classrooms.
We split up into groups at the beginning of the semester and our assignment was to create a virtual world based on Pirates of the Caribbean (not the movie) in Second Life. As a group, we worked on this project for several weeks to create a bounty of information for use in a Junior High classroom setting. Our group was located on the ship docked next to the island. We had two levels on the ship, and had information from notorious pirate places on both levels. The purpose of the assignment was to have the students move form area to area on the island and collect tokens and answer questions on a quiz board. We had to design the tokens and quiz boards. If the students scored a certain percentage on the quiz, they got a prize. Each area had two prizes and the goal was to collect the most prizes.
I was very intimidated, seeing as though I have never used this program before. This is the type of program that takes some time to get used to, especially if you are not very computer savvy. However, once you get the hang of how to do things in Second Life, you find that it really is not as difficult as you first would think. If you have the time and patience to work within the program, then you should be able create any virtual world that you want. There are certain limitations for using virtual worlds in a classroom setting. You have to be aware of the content that is posted. Also, it is very time consuming to create a virtual world. There were five in our group, and we still worked on this project for several weeks. I do not see how any teacher would be willing to put forth the time, or even have enough extra time to do this. Although, I do think that if the teacher has the time to produce a quality simulation, then I think the students will benefit greatly from the experience. I have learned a lot from this experience, but I just think it would be too difficult to use it in my classes.
Although I was new to the whole virtual world simulation game, I found the experience to be very beneficial. If I was able to use it in my class, I would definitely try incorporating it into my classes. This is the type of program that you need to spend time with to get used to using it. If you are willing to do that, then this is a very creative way to add some excitement to your classroom!