Sometimes I come across an article and I wonder how current the article actually is, or whether some sort of blip has caused an old article to hit current searches.
This question struck me as I read an article by Susan Hansen, with a timestamp of 3rd January 2017 : Virtual science classes revolutionizing teaching methodology at FSU.
The article opens by telling us :
Imagine exploring the Great Barrier Reef for an environmental science class or investigating a real-life crime for your introductory chemistry course.
That’s the vision two Florida State University professors had when they created new virtual life classrooms for their students that allow them to learn essentially by playing in a 3-D virtual world.
William Landing, professor of environmental and marine chemistry in the Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Science, and Stephanie Dillon, director of freshman laboratories in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, have designed courses using the program Second Life, through CNDG, a provider of virtual world-based solutions.
This sounds optimistic, it doesn’t sound exactly new but new or old, the article raises some great points about virtual worlds, distance learning and the power of community.
CNDG are Chant Newall Development Group, LLC and are providers of virtual world based solutions for business and education. The images in this post are from the CNDG Campus in Second Life, which still has some life but little information. Florida State University used the CNDG campus for their courses I believe.
The article gives us some good examples of how virtual worlds can be used to enrich the student experience :
In the environmental science laboratory for liberal studies (EVR1001) taught by Landing, students travel back in time to Easter Island with the mission of discovering what caused the collapse of the Rapa Nui culture, monitor invasive species by scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef and analyze the Earth’s climate change by drilling ice cores in the Antarctic.
We also learn of how virtual worlds allow for gamification in some ways to aid teaching :
Dillon utilizes the online system to teach chemistry for liberal studies (CHM1020C), where students become detectives and document evidence from a crime scene of an actual Tallahassee murder case. As the class progresses, students must use the clues and information they acquire to try to solve the case. It’s a real life game of “Clue.”
The article also points out how virtual worlds are good for distance learning, for example, people can login to a virtual world such as Second Life from anywhere in the world.
There are also a couple of youTube videos, with 2016 publishing dates. The first has Dr Bill Prensky, CEO of CNDG introducing Dr Stephanie Dillon, Director of Freshman Chemistry Laboratories at Florida State University. The video has students and Dr Dillon talking about using the virtual world for their course, it’s a little bit like an episode of the Drax files, but a couple of minutes longer and without the funky music :
The second video is a brief trailer for the environmental science lab :
As I said, this may be out of date information, but the points raised are relevant regarding how virtual worlds can be used for education and serve as a template for how virtual realitly based experiences will also be able to make a good use case of education as technology moves forward.
SLURL To CNDG Campus : maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/CNDG%20Campus%20SW/95/188/23