Teachers are using MUVEs (Multiuser Virtual Environments) to promote learning and to encourage creative thinking. These environments are designed to support inquiry-based learning and conceptual understanding. Real world activities involving complex issues are used to encourage exploratory thinking where there are no simple and/or right or wrong answers. Teachers support the student with ongoing instruction, set objectives and criteria for the students projects. Click on the following link to watch the Next Generation Learning video from the Gates Foundation for a glimpse of where MUVEs will take us in the 21st century.
MUVE Examples and Lesson Plans
The most popular and widely used virtual environment site is called Second Life (SL). Over the last 10 years, 36 million accounts were created and 400,000 new accounts are created monthly. Second Life provides a three-dimensional modeling tool which allows users to build virtual objects. Users retain the copyright for anything they create in Second Life. Please click on the following links to view videos of innovative classroom projects using Second Life's virtual world.
Educational MUVEs are being used in every academic discipline. For example, The River City Project describes their project as "a multi-user virtual environment for learning scientific inquiry and 21st century skills." The National Science Foundation funded researchers at Harvard to develop an interactive computer simulation for learning scientific inquiry skills for middle school science students. National Science Education and Technology Education Standards were used to create the content. Students worked in teams, studied the materials provided, and had to come up with a hypothesis of the problem. Please click on the link to view the River City Project.:
Below are more links showing effective and popular educational MUVEs:
Professional Development Opportunities and Organizations
There are excellent websites for teaching educators how to use MUVEs. There are teachers, administrators, educators, researchers, media specialists, etc. collaborating and sharing their experiences and knowledge in regards to using virtual worlds in education. Please view the links below for excellent references for obtaining information on how to incorporate virtual worlds into your lesson plans.
- International Society for Technology in Education: https://www.iste.org
- New Media Consortium: http://www.nmc.org
- The Teaching Village: http://www.teachingvillage.org/2009/07/13/why-every-language-teacher-needs-a-second-life/
- Centre for Learning and Performance Technologies: http://c4lpt.co.uk
- Second Life Education Wiki: http://wiki.secondlife.com/wiki/Education
- Sim Teach: http://www.teach-sim.com