Exploring a virtual environment for knowledge is a great way to facilitate material due to second life allowing you to pace yourself and learn information by playing games.
Before beginning my second life journey, I had many assumptions and ideas of what to expect and yet knew very little about Virtual World Education (VWE). Although upon creating my character that looked something like that mutant that Chunk befriended in the Goonies film, I was amazed at the concept of Virtual World Education and how it was operated. I never wanted to leave my computer!
My original experience with second life as an undergrad was very brief and I had learned the basics in what had gone into online education or (VWE). Such as creating objects and learning some of the different techniques in how to shape your creations properly to make them look more realistic. As a graduate using second life, I highly enjoyed being able to create educational material that for learners on the software. My second tour of duty in second life was very interesting a way that just when I thought I had learned everything the first time, I was shown different methods and approaches to designing online education. Not only does designed Virtual World Education help facilitate material for others, but for myself, I believe that it is also a great way for the designer to educate himself or herself on a given topic as well.
The process that went into creating an educational gaming world was a fun and exciting experience knowing that our research topic, or any research topic that would have used in our project, was facilitated into gaming form and could have been potentially studied by others via second life. At times it was very difficult to understand the procedures that went into the design of the second life content. But once you understand how to fully use the software, you were able to successfully accomplish your goal of creating a legitimate Virtual World Educational environment.
Personally, I believe that Virtual World Education (VWE), is solely meant for students under the age of roughly 15 or so. Why? Because the younger generation is more technologically sound than older adults in many cases these days. I feel that the older adults, more specifically, the adults that think technology is silly, will be fighting more with how to use second life rather than fighting to retain material. However, from the same perspective on both view points, I believe upon properly learning how to use second life, adults will find it to be a great hands on way to learn. With a younger student, there is also the problem that he or she may look at second life and see fun and play time, as opposed to an educational environment. Even for adults, distractions are everywhere. I’d say the most difficult problem or limitation in second life, is finding a balance in the VWE and maintaining a constant educational focus.
I highly undervalued the power of second life. If used properly, it could be a highly successful tool in the education of others from youth to adult. However, I believe the balance is still a bit off. Anytime you design a course on second life, the content whatever it may be, needs to be relevant to the topic. When I refer to content in this case, I’m referring to where your avatar is located, and in what surroundings. The feel needs to be right. In my case, we worked on Pirate trivia, therefore, we operated on a boat and an island. I think that the hardest part is creating a world that properly matches a topic of discussion. More or less, there quite possibly needs be limitations to the learner’s freedom inside of the virtual world. Like I had mentioned, an adult could immediately recognize the real reason for using second life. Which would be to learn new things. When it comes to youth in second life, they would recognize fun before they would recognize learning. Overall, however, I believe that Virtual World Education needs to be further explored and considered in our ever day world of expanding technology.
I would consider the second life educational environment to be a new and still a young idea. When a concept such Virtual World Education matures a little more, I believe it will be the future of education in the upcoming generations for both youth and adult.