Now that you have researched the view opposite of yours, how have your thoughts changed?
Not really; I think VR is a valuable technology but it needs to be used in moderation. If something tangible is available, I would not substitute something virtual for it.
Do virtual worlds offer more advantages over more traditional learning environments?
I would say that whether virtual worlds offer more advantages over traditional environments all depends on what the subject matter is. Art for example, is probably best viewed in person, but if it's not readily available, or there are budget cuts that don't allow for a trip to a museum, VR would be an attractive alternative.
Do virtual worlds give students a better learning experience than real world experiences?
In most situations, no, virtual worlds aren't a better learning experience than real world experiences. Technology might provide views that aren't possible to get in the real world, but trying something for real would always be better in my opinion. Like I commented on Henry's blog, you can be an expert virtual football player, but have no talent at actually throwing a ball.
How can we prevent our students from looking at virtual worlds as just games and view them as learning experiences?
Perhaps if a major percentage of an assignment grade is based on how well they perform on the virtual world students would think it was less like a game. If teachers used a variety of virtual platforms, and didn't limit it to just games, that would help too.