How often do students get a chance to explore a museum? A science centre? The zoo? Once or twice a year if they’re lucky. How can we go beyond just showing our students pictures or simple 2 dimensional representations? Is it possible to bring the world to the classrooms doorstep, undeniably!!! In today’s growing technological world, students are engaging in networked communities in order to gain real life, 3 dimensional experiences through virtual field trips and virtual worlds.
The social part of virtual worlds is one of the main factors that help to motive students because it is driven by free choice learning. Falk and Storksdiek’s study (2009) stress the need for self -interpretation in learning and believe it influences student perceptions. When lessons are created to align with student expectations and personal reality it helps to enhance natural curiosity making the learning meaningful. Students are driven to discover and follow their own path of learning. Each having their own ideas of how they plan to find their solution but also watching and asking others opinions along the way.
The virtual world is a collaborative platform that enables interaction between the teachers and students as well as students themselves who meet online to work on projects and develop. In the world of science, new ideas and discoveries are happening all the time and students are given the chance to attend and learn in places where they may never have been able to be a part of. Amazing, isn’t it?! These types of networked communities open up the world to meeting and learning from more people while exploring the world, which is not always possible within today’s isolated classrooms.
The world is recreated so students can feel like they’re in the moment thus engaging the learner and bringing them closer to an authentic learning experience. Students can hook up with real world businesses and hash out ideas or collaborate on ideas or suggestions. Real life meaningful and purposeful interactions help to extend learning to our student’s lives. If experiencing science discoveries or visualizing a math concept by how it relates to the world is indeed the way we learn, educators must help to develop more opportunities outside of the one or two field trips a year by bringing real life experiences to students.
These types of online learning environments could also help to offer professional development that is engaging and enables educators to connect globally and share. Not only will students reap benefits but also educators may find innovative ways to collaborate and develop the “art” of teaching.
Falk, J. & Storksdieck, M. (2010). Science learning in a leisure setting. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 47(2), 194-212
Second Life – Education (2007). http://secondlife.com/education/
TOTS at UBC Library | Virtual Worlds (2007). http://tots.pbwiki.com/Virtual+Worlds
Zhu, Q., Xiang, K., Hu, S. (2007) Design an immersive interactive museum in second life. Digital Media and Its Application in Museums of Heritages, Retrieved on October 28, 2008 from http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/stamp/stamp.jsp?arnumber=04414564