While virtual worlds offer vast potential as a learning system and collaborative space for adults as well as children, they also have a long way to go before that ideal is a reality. Especially for children, virtual worlds continue to offer escapist, fantasy lands that too often miss the opportunity to serve as positive learning systems, and act more like advertising immersion programs.
At a Virtual Worlds Forum held in London in 2007, Oscar-winning filmmaker Lord Puttnam gave the opening keynote speech. He voiced fears that all children will learn from these virtual worlds is that they are first and foremost consumers. Puttnam urged creators to build virtual worlds that help to instill in children the values that societies need. “Are we absolutely sure that this is the very best we can offer young people?” he asked. The potential for virtual worlds to become positive learning systems is there, waiting to be tapped into.
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