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Using Virtual Worlds in the Classroom

Virtual worlds are probably the most talked about electronic teaching tool in education. You make an Avatar and walk, run, fly (trust me, you get dizzy), and transport yourself to various places that other educators have built. It is an interactive environment where student connect with each other, with simulations, labs, international talks, clubs, and many other activities.

Thousands of educators internationally are using virtual worlds with students in the classroom and out. Research shows that it is effective for affective (attitudinal gain), cognitive, and group learning.

Since Fall 2010, we have government, educational psychology, environmental science, English, art, educational technology, English, educational psychology and criminal justice classes that will be using SL. We will be conducting a campus wide research project to demonstrate how virtual worlds can affect student attitude, learning, and increase connections among faculty and other students.

To use the UTB/TSC islands in your course:

Step One

Decide how using virtual worlds will fit with the goals and objectives of your course. Examples: student retention and affective learning, simulations and case studies, technical skill building using 3D software, and lively discussion and increased classroom communication.

Begin with a concept of what you would like the students to do. Then come to the Center for Teaching and Learning to build the written assignments and the facilities on vUTB. Contact:

Step Two

We have a complete online tutorial to assist students with making their avatar, learning elementary navigation skills, and learning basic, intermediate and advanced building skills. You can link or embed this tutorial to your Blackboard Pages or other classroom management tools.

For instructions on the process to adding a virtual world component, click here.

For a template that you can edit to add to your syllabus, click here

Research in Learning

We have a Community of Practice that will investigate how SL affects students for affective (do they like it), retention, and learning. There is a consortium of colleges in partnership with Ken Bain, Associate Provost at Montclair State University, to expand the use of virtual worlds in teaching to connect students from both campuses.

To join this research group, contact Betsy Price or Jeff Wilson.

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