Many educational virtual worlds are designed for children, for example Miamiopia which is part of a learning network. This site uses games as a method of teaching curriculum subjects such as maths, biology, geography, history and science. Children ‘earn’ rewards in the form of virtual coins which they can use to purchase items from the online shop.
The attraction of virtual worlds
What this and other games do is to rely heavily upon imagination, curiosity and sense of fun which characterises children’s behaviour. We know that kids have no inhibitions when it comes to trying something new and if that includes the latest technology. So kids are more likely to embrace virtual reality than adults as they approach this without any preconceptions or fears about their abilities (or perceived lack of them!).
The idea behind this is that kids enjoy computer games and technologies in general so why not use this as a learning aid along with conventional forms of teaching? But there will be some kids who find it difficult to engage with standard ways of teaching so other methods have to be used to encourage them to participate and learn.
If you are a teacher then this probably sounds all too familiar. If so then consider other methods of teaching such as virtual worlds which will appeal to kids who are heavy users of technology and feel comfortable around it.
Kids see pens, pencils and books as old fashioned and unappealing compared to using laptops, iPads, virtual reality etc. This means that teachers need to be familiar with the latest forms of technology and use these to deliver a range of subjects to a tech-savvy audience.
Educational virtual worlds are playful and have a strong emphasis on fun but there is a very real message behind this. They require kids to carry out a range of tasks, enter contests and undertake other activities which help them to learn.