Monday, February 18, 2013

Virtual Environments for Education

I love technology and I believe it has and will continue to have a tremendous impact on education. But I also believe that just because something is technology, doesn't mean we must find a way to stick into the classroom.

One example of this is the concept of a virtual environment platform such as Second life. Second life is a program in which students create for themselves an avatar in which they build, interact and explore with other avatars.  Although the idea sounds nice, I think it distracts the student from learning how to build real life social skills and adapt to our surroundings

My fellow classmate, Yitzchak Jaffe, in his blog post "Virtually Ridiculous," expressed it beautifully when he wrote: " Not only do I think such an experience can become addictive, but I think it fosters a false sense of confidence in who you are not. In a virtual environment, if you want to be a pro-wrestler spy who is rich and suave, go ahead. But are you learning to be the best YOU that you can be? One of our jobs as educators is to help students learn how to maximize their potential. But it still has to be THEIR potential. And anything less will ultimately be very unfulfilling.But I also do think there are advantages of creating virtual environments to help us better understand and experience a situation that is not possible to explore in the real world.

For example, creating a virtual city during the second temple. I don't mean just building a model but also exploring how the city's inhabitants would look and interact. I am not an expert but I've heard wonderful things with Minecraft and how schools are using it for purposes similar to what I have mentioned.

Here are a few links to get you started:

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