I know that if you write a blog, you will get criticism, and it’s been a good week for that, what with the Tapscott and William’s response and the reaction to my posting about virtual worlds. I really do welcome your comments, positive or negative, and usually I am happy to let the comments speak for themselves.
However, I am going to defend my comment that Jeffrey Young’s article was ‘excellent’. Yes, it may not have been comprehensive in its coverage of exciting virtual world applications, but it raised some issues that I have had for some time about virtual worlds. Here’s what I wrote in response to the responses:
In response to Frustrated Reader and Liz, I thought it was an ‘excellent’ article because it focused on the need to move virtual worlds from what are still a very limited set of applications into the mainstream of education.
At the moment, developing virtual worlds requires more time and specialised programming knowledge than most instructors have time for. The article also discussed what doesn’t work well in virtual worlds, and that is trying to replicate a physical classroom.
The problem is not the concept of virtual worlds, but imagining what they are possible of doing in educational terms, and then building easy-to-use tools that enable virtual worlds to be easily integrated into a wider educational experience.
I recognise that some valuable work is being done to explore the potential of virtual worlds for education, but too often virtual world applications seem self-indulgent in that they satisfy the needs of programmers rather than learners.
What do I mean by an authentic educational virtual world? One that focuses on learning outcomes that can be applied not only in virtual space but also in the physical world. There is no need for this to be authenticated institutionally, but learning is the name of the game.
Yes, I do think that virtual worlds have tremendous potential, and yes, some good work is going on, but it needs to come out of the fringe and into the mainstream, and I don’t see that happening yet – which is why I liked the article.
So, please keep your comments coming – but I do reserve the right to reply occasionally!