Constructivist Teaching 2008: Virtual Worlds, Promising Technologies, Inspiring Examples

M. Yoder (USA)


Virtual worlds, constructivism, online, learning, creaitvity


Virtual environments are providing students with realistic experiences that go beyond the computer simulations of the past. This paper, and subsequent presentation, will allow the reader to see a virtual world through the eyes of an avatar, an avatar whose real life is focused on inquiry based learning and constructivist techniques, and whose human persona had serious concerns about multi-user virtual environments (MUVEs). Those educators who have doubted the educational value of virtual worlds such as Second Life and other MUVEs, are beginning to understand the usefulness and pedagogical possibilities of classes, libraries, and resources in digital environments, including the NMC (New Media Consortium) and other university based locations. Underlying these adventures is a focused perspective on experiential learning and constructivist theory. How do young students gain knowledge in a highly visual and graphic environment? How do the interaction and social networking aspects promote or contain learning opportunities? What kinds of questions and challenges best motivate and engage students? Research on gaming, experiential learning, and situated learning in authentic contexts, supports the importance of using a select group of thoughtfully planned virtual activities in safe, well chaperoned electronic environments.

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