How can we prevent our students from looking at virtual worlds as just games and view them as learning experience? That is a tough question to answer, when the past time of a lot of my students is playing video games. Although in the same thought, as a child is playing a video game, they are learning to solve it. I truly think that it would be hard for a child to disconnect the virtual world from the video game experience. The way that this could be handled is how the educator relates the experience to the curriculum.
If the teacher does not directly tie the experience into the curriculum, then the student might as well be experiencing the virtual reality world in the comforts of their own home. The virtual worlds should be a way to have fun. Why can’t a student play a game as they are learning? Like I mentioned, this would be effective as long as there are assignments and curriculum tied to the process. Using the virtual world as a learning experience would definitely keep students engaged in the learning process.
Because I’m a language arts teacher, I think using virtual worlds as a learning experience would be a great way to incorporate the writing process. Students could write and reflect about their experience. They could write and take on the role of the character that they are experiencing in the virtual world. They could write an expository paper on the process of exploring the virtual world. They could compare and contrast the pros and cons of the virtual world. Students could even evaluate and analyze the games that they play. On top of that, the virtual world could definitely be used in other academic areas such as social studies or science. In social studies, students could explore other countries. Google Earth could take students to places that they’ve never been. In science students could dissect animals without ever having to touch the animal. Students could explore the human body or explore different environments in earth science.
Although virtual reality is a great tool to use in the learning process, traditional learning must also take place. Children all have different learning styles, and they should be introduced to a variety of styles so that they learn what’s best for them. Students should be exposed to a variety of learning experiences from the virtual world to the real world.