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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Why Today's Learners are Attracted to Virtual Learning World

While technology is enabling the creation and usage of 3D virtual worlds, the appeal of these worlds is being driven by a new generation of learners. A generation of learners who have grown up immersed in technologies like text messaging, social networking and video games. This generation is entering educational and business institutions with a different focus, mentality and learning style than any previous generation.

A mentality and learning style forged by playing video games and interacting in 3D worlds with names such as Nicktropolis, Whyville, Club Penguin, Runescape, Mokitown,ToonTown and Pirates of the Caribbean.

Each of these worlds is inhabited by kids, some as young as six, who are spending time interacting, making friends and navigating 3D virtual worlds. And these virtual worlds are inhabited by millions of kids, tweens and teenagers. Nicktropolis, a virtual work created by Nickelodeon, a division of Viacom, has over 8 million citizens which is bigger than the population of London.

The incoming generation of learners and workers blurs the line between the virtual and the physical world. It is not that they can’t see the difference between the two. No, it is just that the new generation of learner is equally comfortable in either world—real or virtual. They bring a technology comfort level unachievable by generations who have not grown up with video games, gadgets or the internet.

These learners and workers have grown up in an age of the Internet where they are able to create their own content, become an avatar and create their own realities electronically. They interact in 3D worlds comfortably and expect business and learning applications to have 3D aspects as well.


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Anonymous said...

You are encouraging them to spend more time in virtual world than in real world. According to your comment, they can live and operate in both worlds but I doubt that it is true. For example, you can learn the use of certain equipment in virtual world but it certainly is not same as touching and feeling the actual equipment. In addition, the information that these generation get from the web are limited in scope and someof them can be outright wrong and misleading. They have no experience or understanding to make judgment on these. When you state that they can create their own content but what use is the content if they do not learn them before hand from a reliable source or teacher. Moreover, these activities are distracting them from the realities of the real world they will live and experience. According to many sources, these learners almost never read from the books and they assuem that the contents available on the web are free and true.

Karl Kapp said...

First thanks for the comment. My purpose for this post was to point out that kids are in virtual worlds alot and if we ignore that we are ignoring a huge opportunity to turn "down time" into productive learning time. But if we leave virtual worlds only to entertainment companies and corporations then we don't have a chance to impact kids of the new generation.

I agree that you can't learn everything in a virtual world but you also need to admit that you can learn something in a virtual world.

The ideal is to have a balance between different learning experiences. Right now, there is no learning balance. School is all books and lecture with little to no virtual world interactivity. We need some virtual world learning in schools.

We also need to teach students to discern between good and bad content, if we ignore the internet then we don't do our students any justice because we need to help them learn the difference, not just condemn it because some of it is bad stuff.

So, I agree that virtual worlds are not the only answer but we can't prepare student for the future by only teaching them with tools of the past.

Anonymous said...

Hear hear! Virtual space interaction is here to stay and will only get more and more sophisticated. The sooner everyone gets comfortable in it the more useful it will be.

But no matter which reality your mind is focusing on at the moment the values of integrity and critical thinking serve you best. In fact, the focus on critical thinking is paramount and should be ingrained in every step of every curriculum from kindergarten on. Especially now and in future as we are bombarded endlessly with a tsunami of information minute to minute.

THINK! should be the watchword of teachers and parents.

Anonymous said...

What happened to second life...there was slot of hype a few years back?

Karl Kapp said...


Second Life is a victim of its own Hype. It hasn't gone away but the hype has died down and, in a few years, when people really figure out how to use it properly for learning, I think you'll begin to hear about it once more.


Anonymous said...

Speaking of 2nd life.