Virtual “worlds,” for better or worse, are an ever-increasingly popular online learning system worldwide. Although media coverage of virtual worlds like Second Life has been on the decline, a throng of virtual worlds for kids has grown even more popular than their adult counterparts. For example, according to the New York Times, tween world Club Penguin has more than 4 million visitors per month. And if kids can learn professions like blacksmithing, mining, first aid and tailoring in virtual worlds like World of Warcraft, why not biology or American history?
BBC contributor Bill Thompson writes, “Second Life and World of Warcraft are not really ‘worlds,’ whatever their proponents might claim. They are sophisticated 3-d environments that allow for a much greater degree of engagement than other tools, and they offer tools for interaction and creative expression that browsers, chatrooms and email do not.” Despite the challenges, teachers are beginning to find a place for virtual worlds and their potential for team learning in real world learning systems.
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