Once again it has been awhile since I felt like I had much to say on the progress front with getting our Virtual World offerings up and running for kids. My blogs seem to be much like my journals and diaries of the past were...the highs of highs and lows of lows were always what I seemed to record.
Our school continues to focus on finding engaging resources for kids to explore.
At this point we have determined a few things through surveys and conversations...
- Our virtual world and simulations work for a certain group of learners. They are being offered as a curricular option...not the only platform for learning."Forcing" them on all isn't recognizing the need for differentiated ways of design, process or product that many kids need.
- The learning curve to get started both as a learner and a teacher is STEEP. One must be passionate and committed about this form of teaching/learning. Teachers and students need a great deal of support with both pedagogy and technology to get started and to stay invested. Both teachers and learners also need to be able to withstand the myriad of issues that arise with interacting with a fairly new area of technology.
- Safety is a concern for all. Who has access to communicating with the learners? Often when creating these environments help from outside sources is necessary to gain expertise and to learn. The debate between closing, or keeping worlds open has been like a ping pong game.
- Continue to explore. Continue to build. Engage learners in helping us to learn more about how these environments are beneficial...or not. Keep an open mind. Ask for and gather continual feedback.
- Our Province is now supporting an Active Worlds Uniserver for teachers to collaborate and share their worlds within. I'm excited to have the world I helped to create be a part of this new venture. It means more work...of course...nothing good is ever easy :-) Files are being uploaded, objects have disappeared, and a few other technology related crises have occurred along with working on developing common understanding for how the teachers and learners will work together in this environment.
Future Steps (Fingers Crossed):
- There will be several built worlds for learners to explore and the option available for the learners to build their own environments to show their understanding.
- Teachers will be able to work together collaboratively with learners to create, design, and share their work efficiently and with an authentic audience.