In the spirit of full disclosure, I have never been a strong advocate for the use of virtual environments in education. It isn’t that I am against it either. I was an early adopter of Second Life and found myself flying around (you can walk also, but who wants to do that when you can fly) not doing much of anything. I questioned the ease of use for students, how immersive it really was and the time needed to create anything of real meaning. I still have those questions, but about a year ago I met Caren Levine.
Caren is the Director of the Learning Network for Darim Online, an organization focused on assisting other Jewish organizations grow and improve through the effective use of technology. She is the publisher of jlearn 2.0, an excellent blog for educators to explore resources and issues related to educational technology integration in Jewish learning. Among many other accolades, she is also he lead docent for ISTE in Second Life. So, when I found out she would be speaking at a retreat I was on, I knew I had to listen.
Caren gave myself and the other attendees a demo of Second Life and we discussed the possible applications to education. She was impressive, knew what she was talking about and made a lot of sense. So where did that leave me?
Well, I still do not use virtual environments in education, but lately I have been thinking of that session Caren gave and have been learning more about it. The idea of creating immersive environments for students to learn in is fascinating and virtual immersion has always fascinated me. In fact, I did one of my research projects in grad school on using Virtual Reality to treat anxiety.
I would love to hear others thoughts on using this medium. My feeling is that it is still a bit ahead of its time, but everyday it gets easier and more robust that it may very soon be the primary way we interact online. Hope you are keeping tabs Mark Zuckerberg.
As for Jewish education, the ability to virtually explore the first temple, stand at Har Sinai as the Torah is being given and virtually touch the kotel (click here to see a second life tour) intrigues me. Who knows, maybe my second life avatar will fly once more.
Here are a few additional resources on using virtual environments in education:
#1 Click here for an article Caren wrote on using virtual world in education.
#2 Click here for Caren Levine's wikispace on Second Life on jlearn2.0. It is a great resource for beginners and includes Jewish second life resources as well.
#3 Click here for the section of Second Life that tries to answer why people should teach in Second Life.
#4 Click here for RezEd, the online hub for practitioners using virtual worlds, offering access to the highest quality resources and research in the field to establish a strong network of those using virtual worlds for learning.
Page 53 of 57