An application of e-learning which is becoming more and more popular is the concept of a virtual museum. Museums are places in which we can all learn and also appreciate artifacts of nature or of mankind. However, sometimes museums are considered to be old-fashioned or boring, especially to children and teenagers.
A virtual museum can be visited online, and some also allow a 3D walkthrough. What’s nice about them is that one would be combining the educative nature of museums, with the interactive/fun nature of technology. I believe this might be a way to encourage children and teenagers to learn from museums and exhibitions…
Second Life is a virtual 3D community created in 2003. When the user becomes a member, he/she becomes a new resident and is given a new identity by using a name and a virtual avatar to represent himself in this virtual community.
Second Life’s virtual world also includes sound/visual environments such as wind and rain, audible conversations, built-in chats and instant messaging. Residents buy property, start businesses, game with other residents, create objects, join clubs, attend classes, or just hang out.
Second Life can also be used as a platform for an e-learning environment. The good thing about Second Life is that, unlike most of the other e-Learning environments, it brings the student into conditions which are very close to real-life situations. It is well suited for direct interaction and working in a specific virtual environment. All of this can be done by programming the avatar to act like a real person and interact with other avatars (other members). This is a good example of immersion into worlds which can extend someone’s perception of reality, and project it into this virtual reality.
The video below shows some examples of how Second Life can be used to provide training simulations. You can find other useful links within the same page.
I came across this very interesting project which aims to provide students with a great way to immerse themselves from the physical to the virtual reality.
Mixed Reality Teaching & Learning Environment (MiRTLE), was a one-year collaborative research project undertaken by Sun Microsystems Laboratories and the University of Essex from October 2007. Virtual worlds have been used to address some issues such as giving users a greater sense of presence and engagement than other communication/collaboration technologies, such as instant messaging, chat, audio/video conferencing or application sharing. However, few of the virtual worlds enable a mixed reality of physically present and remote students.
The vision for the project MiRTLE was for a combination of physically-present and remote students in a traditional instructive higher education setting. This solution should augment existing teaching practice with the ability to foster a sense of community amongst remote students, and between remote and physically-present students.
Last week I saw three students congregated round a computer screen and they were so immersed in their conversation that I couldn’t help but observe them and listen to their discussion. The students were collaborating together and sharing their ideas. They were visibly engaged and they were teaching each other how to use the application well. I also overheard their plans on how they intend to share and exchange the resources related to the application. Without even realising they were trying to decipher a plan that will lead to the greater good of each of them – a utilitarian perspective that is so widely diffused in business ethics. Their conversation even led them to practice resource bartering. In just ten minutes, these students had applied more concepts than I would have ever hoped to teach in an hour. The students were playing FishVille.
What value can be extracted from these games, which provide such an immersive ‘alternate’ reality to people? What is The value they are currently extracting? Can this be measured? Can this be quantified?