Virtual Worlds, Simulations, and Games for Education

An article in this months Innovate.  Partly sponsored by Microsoft.  Quite an interesting read.  (As one who is NOT greatly into this field)  Unfortunately you need to create an account.  😦

Virtual Worlds, Simulations, and Games for Education: A Unifying View by Clark Aldrich.

The intro:

Many practitioners have been struck by a paradox. They sense an overlap between virtual worlds, games, and simulations, and yet they know that one is not synonymous with the other. The three often look similar; they all typically take place in three-dimensional worlds that are populated by three-dimensional avatars. Yet as I have argued elsewhere (Aldrich 2009), the differences are profound. Games are fun, engaging activities usually used purely for entertainment, but they may also allow people to gain exposure to a particular set of tools, motions, or ideas. In contrast, simulations use rigorously structured scenarios carefully designed to develop specific competencies that can be directly transferred into the real world. Finally, virtual worlds are multiplayer (and often massively multiplayer), three-dimensional, persistent social environments with easy-to-access building capabilities. They share with games and simulations the three-dimensional environment, but they do not have the focus on a particular goal, such as advancing to the next level or successfully navigating the scenario.

Aldrich, C. 2009. The complete guide to serious games and simulations. Somerset, NJ: Wiley.

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Online development for school BoT members

MEDIA RELEASE – Distance Education Association of New Zealand (DEANZ)

27 May 2009

Online training for Boards of Trustees members a good move says DEANZ

Online training for school Board of Trustees members, supported by the Ministry of Education, recognises the tremendous contribution that distance education methods can make to training environments, says Distance Education Association of New Zealand (DEANZ) President Dr Bill Anderson

“Distance education is a proven way of delivering cost-effective high-quality training to large numbers of widely dispersed people. The training of the approximately 10,000 Boards of Trustees members provides considerable opportunity to leverage the cost benefits that distance education can create,” says Dr Anderson.

Dr Anderson says that while this initiative has its origin in an Auditor-General’s report that considered the cost effectiveness of Trustee training; cost alone should not drive the initiative. “Online training is as effective as any other means of training.”

“As with all forms of education and training its effectiveness is a result of the combination of good planning, good design of learning materials and resources, appropriate choice of technologies and effective online teaching.

The Ministry’s move toward online training for School Trustees must take account of all these requirements”, says Dr Anderson.

School Trustees are typically leading busy lives, often working and inevitably involved with their communities in a range of ways.

Distance education provides flexibility for such people and enables them to undertake the necessary training for their valuable role at places and times convenient to them.

It provides the benefit that they can easily make contact with a much wider, potentially national range of fellow Trustees to share ideas and develop new perspectives on their role and tasks, and still allows them to come together in groups when that is valuable.

The flexibility of online training also means targeted just-in-time training is possible.

“Many schools that Trustees are involved with will be using online resources and capabilities to enrich the learning of their students.

There are many examples of the use of distance education techniques in primary and secondary schools that illustrate just how effective distance education can be. Training for Trustees could take advantage of some of the lessons learnt through the experiences of schools” says Dr Anderson.

DEANZ sees the Ministry of Education’s initiative as a valuable example of the ways in which distance education can support education and training across all sectors of the New Zealand economy.

Latest e-primer on “Online Discourse”

The fourth in the E-Primer series, “Online discourse”, is now available from the Ako Aotearoa Website . The fourth E-Primer is available under a Creative Commons license and is both a good practice guide for and a theoretical orientation to online discourse based on peer-reviewed literature. The first three in the series are also available from Ako Aotearoa:

#1 – E-learning in context – An introduction to e-learning and the international experience; definitions of terms; a theory for e-learning; technologies; benefits
#2 – E-education and faculty – Education theory and e-learning; the changing role of faculty; workload issues; quality
#3 – Designing for e-learning – Instructional design; learning objects; constructing a hybrid course

A future E-Primer, to be released toward the middle of the year, considers the potential contributions of social networking, ePortfolios and mobile technologies to formal education.

From the introduction:In this e-primer, you will discover both the promise of formal online discourse (that is, conversation mediated through internet tools) for education, and good practice. Throughout, I encourage you to apply online discourse in ways that are conducive to teaching and learning. The focus in this e-primer is more on the discourse than the
technology although, inevitably, we will consider technology. In E-Primer 5, E-xtending Possibilities, we will look at interactive journals (blogs), collaboration through wiki tools,
working with ePortfolios, and the potential of social networking tools such as MySpace and Facebook for education. Here, in E-Primer 4, we will limit our attention to synchronous chat, desktop audio- and videoconferencing, and the online bulletin or discussion boards that are common in learning management systems (LMSs). Because LMSs are commonly used in distance education and blended learning courses (MacDonald 2006; Hopkins et al 2008), we’ll look closely at them and their features.

Learning Design for Online

What’s in a title? Educational designer, Instructional designer, Learning designer . . .

The romantic view (actually helping others become better at this core skill) :

When we are supporting teachers to completely redesign a course to be fully online or substantially blended we use a very basic design template which doesn’t actually mention moodle at all. We don’t want their design to be driven by a specific set of tools. Yes they need to have some understanding about Moodle and also other potential online tools not within the Moodle toolbox. But especially when the teacher is new to this we see it as our job to help them think through how their ideas will translate into an actual course . . . . .

From David Sturrock’s post at Moodle.org.  (Log in as a guest if you don’t have an account)

He has some really cool concepts here, drawing on the OTARA model.

Plus check out LDNet, the Learning design community (in embyonic form) at Ako Aoteraroa.

Jossey-Bass online conference

Here’s the schedule at a glance:

October 6 – 7 2008

*  Social Presence in the Online Classroom
*  Transforming a Learning Program Through a Community-Based Model of Instruction
*  Teaching and Learning in Virtual Worlds October 7
*  Keynote with Cynthia Calongne: Learning in Virtual Worlds
*  Enhancing Adult Motivation to Learn
*  Assessing the Online Learner
*  Exploring the Digital Library
*  Gender, Digital Technology, Games and Learning October 8
*  Keynote with Stephen Brookfield: Developing Critical Thinkers
*  Engaging the Online Learner
*  Learning in Real Time
*  Collaborating Online
*  Conquering the Content

There is quite an array of speakers, including Stephen Brookfield, Rena Palloff and Keith Pratt and others.

To find out more about the conference, and to register, go to www.onlineteachingandlearning.com

I’d say this will be an intense two days, and not sometying you can dabble in – but you will get recordings of the sessions etc etc and so you can benefit later on as well.  The programme is listed here – Derek

Yet another Journal: IJMBL

International Journal of Mobile and Blended Learning (IJMBL) – An Official Publication of the Information Resources Management Association — New in 2009

From the website: “Technology supported learning has been increasingly used across a broad spectrum of educational contexts, in many cases being integrated with more traditional forms of teaching. As new opportunities have emerged for mobile, immersive and augmented learning, freeing electronic teaching tools from the desktop, researchers have begun to explore the wide potentials of learning experiences that are integrated with both the classroom and the world outside, leveraging the boundless new possibilities that a pervasively wired and wireless society can support. The International Journal of Mobile and Blended Learning aims to provide a forum for researchers in this field to share their knowledge and experience of mobile and blended learning environments”

Dave Parsons is the Editor.

Open course: Facilitating Online Communities

I’ve lifted this from the post by Leigh on the WikiEducator list.  This is quite a remarkable style of course. A NZ based course with an international flavour. – Derek

Open course: Facilitating Online Communities – Starts 28 July

Chat RoomThat course we ran last year is coming up again. I’ve tweaked it quite a bit – free at last from the learning management system it was locked up inside, running in a wiki schedule, backed up by blogs and an email forum.

This course has been developed by staff in the Educational Development Centre of Otago Polytechnic and is designed to help both formal and informal learners access and interpret models, research and professional dialog in the facilitation of online communities. After completing this course people should be confident in facilitating online and/or be able to critique and offer advice to other people in the facilitation of online communities.
The next facilitated course starts 28 July 2008.
Participation in this course is open. You will need to have regular access the Internet and be comfortable with independently completing tasks. To join simply introduce yourself to the discussion page and include an email address that can be use to add you to an email forum for the course.

In formal learning terms this is a level 7 course registered on the New Zealand Qualifications Authority. Formal learning participants engage in this course for a period of 10 weeks with an indicative time commitment of at least 6 hours per week.

Formal learners will receive concentrated learning support throughout this period, and assessment services and formal recognition at the completion of the course. Some people may prefer to engage in this course informally and to set their own pace through the work using the schedule as a guide. Informal engagement is welcome and arrangements can be made for formal assessment and recognition at any time with the course facilitator.

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