Sunday, 18 November 2007

CLTI07 - Steve Mahaley - virtual worlds and education

In the corporate learning conference organised by George Siemens, Steve Mahaley was second to give a presentation on using virtual worlds for education.

Education was defined in this presentation as a corporate business strategy to optimize work. Steve gave some examples of education in virtual worlds (he used the Second Life environment). One of his examples was on having a teaming exercise in SL.

He looked at possible benefits of virtual world education. Based on his favourite class = recess, he concluded that the best learning activities are those using all of our senses to interact with an educational environment. Several learning theorists were put onto display: Lev Vygotsky, John Dewey and David Jonassen who based their theories on 'Learning by doing' and social interaction to enhance education.

Steve showed a virtual teaming exercise and listed a few practical considerations amongst which he mentioned:
- videoconferencing is better than virtual world for debriefing;
- debriefing is essential if you want to reach your learning goals that you set out to attain;
- he found that it was better to give participants avatars, than to let participants come with their own avatar that could be 'inappropriate' for certain circumstances or would lead to unnecessary exchange of items.

My own thoughts on using virtual worlds as a means of education:
- great for getting experience with simulations;
- good for learning any knowledge that is based on sight;
- but it is expensive if you want to own or build your own island and virtual environments certainly demand high end equipment for all participants to be able to attend virtual classes => at this point virtual worlds exclude people from low resource areas.

Again, like with the presentation of Tony Karrer yesterday the fire walled environment in corporation was mentioned as a possible downside for corporation and (knowledge) workers in those corporations to accept virtual environments as an educational tool. A lot of participants mentioned that they could not blog or go to virtual environments from their office. Which meant that most of them were pushed into experimenting with these new educational tools from home and in their spare time.

Again Ricardo Semler comes to mind as a possible blue print for new management in corporations that are technology and knowledge based.

A couple of links that were mentioned on virtual worlds and education