Week 10: New Technologies

November 1, 2013

This week in class, we had reading and discussion about new technologies and virtual worlds. I would have to say that I’m slightly apprehensive about using virtual worlds within my classroom. Let me explain, if we are comparing virtual worlds with the real world, there might be inconsistencies. For example, in the video from ImmersiveED (2012) located on Canvas that we watched, the speaker mentions a virtual world in which students can take sample of a lake to determine why certain fish are dying. If this is a virtual world created by humans, how do we know that we didn’t miss something? Perhaps the fish died due to someone dumping some sort of substance into the water that was not something the program would let us test for.

 

I’m probably looking deeper into virtual worlds or examining more closely than I should be. Also, to use Dr. Coffman’s example, what if we give students in a virtual classroom prescribed behaviors and they act as “a person should” in a particular situation. We all know, that life is sometime unpredictable so while Johnny might typically be the boy with emotional disturbance that calls out in class, he might not be like that on one particular day.

 

I guess what I’m trying to say is that the world is not predictable and I feel as though virtual worlds might simplify complex issues. These issues might be questions that we don’t yet have the answer to. It’s not that I don’t believe in virtual worlds but I think that we should explain to our students and caution them that the virtual world we are immersing them in is not real. As teachers, we should mention that the world is based on current assumptions about how the world works.

 

With that being said, I really like the idea of virtual worlds. I’ve seen virtual simulation software in use at my school. I’m a teaching assistant in a science classroom. Before the teacher taught her lesson on atoms and atomic particles she had the students explore a website that had the first 10 or so elements in the period table. The students had a proton, neutron, and electron buffet (there were bowls of each subatomic particle) and they were able to add each particle one by one to see what happened to the element. Therefore, they were able to see that protons changed the element from one element such as hydrogen to helium by adding a proton. They could also observe that adding more neutrons than protons would make the element unstable and that adding or subtracting electrons would make the element positively or negatively charged. This really helped students grasp the concept of atoms and subatomic particles before we even started the lesson.

 

So to sum up my feelings about virtual worlds, I believe that we must be careful to explain to students that the virtual worlds are based on the current assumptions that we have about our world.  Creating virtual worlds seem very difficult to me because you have to take into account all the oddities of normal life and attempt to create a world that is realistic as possible. I do believe that it is a substitute for experimentation in the real world but it does not take the place of real world experimentation. However, sometimes it is impossible or very expensive to present every lesson to students in the real world, so virtual worlds can help supplement.

 

Reference

ImmersiveED (2012).  iED 2012 Boston Summit – EcoMUVE. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tdsB0EmnEqc&feature=youtu.be

Categories: INDT 501.

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