Reflections and applications on SL based education

The potential for applying Second Life to education appears limited only by our imaginations and the user interface. The “Teaching with Games” article highlighted the imagination of the educators that put them to use. Since this is a catch as catch can situation I am not particularly drawn to this approach. I have noticed, however, that the games that rely on accurate simulations to guide the game-player interaction do provide real world insights into subject like the physics of flight, economics, strategy, and tactics that could only be obtained first hand experience. Interestingly many of the faculty preferred to use the games to reenforce social interaction based subjects like team work.

“Unlimited Learning” presents a theme that I find more interesting. The ability to expand the educational experience beyond what we can do traditionally within the limits of budget and the classroom. I found the 33 learning principles listed eye openning although not surprising. I would say that these principles are probably more exercised in today’s games than in those of the past. I would say that the ability to take risk with no real consequence is probably the most powerful learning tool of SL or a gaming environment. This characteristic is, in my opinion, what makes this a very good tool for mastery learning.

“Learning in Immersive Worlds” highlighted an aspect of games that we tend to forget. They are metaphor for life in many ways. Chess is a stylized tactical battle. Football and soccer are real time simulations of age old contests that were resolved by conflict. The power of today’s sophisticated game/simulation environments is there ability more directly replicate a “reality” that can be explored in a nonthreatening manner.

Given the need of technical programs to provide significant hands on experience I am waiting to see Second Life move to the next phase by providing the ability to manipulate objects using a joystick or haptic interface and explore their use in creating next level of virtual tactile reality.

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