Now that I have researched the opposing viewpoint, while my opinion is still against virtual learning being the better than regular classroom instruction. It has softened to the idea of utilizing virtual realities. While I feel more open to the integration of virtual worlds in my classroom, I believe it is crucial to allow students time to be creative in the real world and make real life experiences. I would definitely use virtual worlds in my classroom, but sparingly, using clear directions and guidelines to protect students.
Virtual world to offer several advantages, yet I still feel that these advantages do not out weight those of traditional learning environments. Like virtual realities, books can allow students to learn or experience something new. However, this is not a replacement for the actual place, activity, or event. I did find the advantages of virtual environments went beyond supporting and building conducive learning games. Virtual worlds actually help develop opportunities to scaffold connections between cultures, languages, world art, music, and age appropriate skill sets. All of this is completed, while guiding students through virtual environments with step-by-step directions.
These learning tools allow students to experience realities that would normally be unavailable to the public or untrained professionals including: skydiving, scuba diving, knee replacement surgery, going into outer space, and traveling to far off countries. When using virtual environments students can safely navigate the world to places including: the Louvre Museum in Paris to see the famous Mona Lisa painting, view the Great Wall of China, and observe the sunset on Antarctica.
Virtual worlds do not give students a better learning experience than the real world learning experiences. Being able to see the shuttle launches in person is better than only watching it on television or virtually experiencing it. This is simply a tool that enables students in the learning process. It can be especially helpful in aiding English as a second language learners, Autistic learners, and other special needs students.
Educators can prevent students from looking at virtual worlds as just games. Teachers can easily help students to view virtual worlds as learning experiences by educating students on the purpose of each virtual environment. Through simple communication of the goals, standards, objectives, and skills sets each virtual environment supports, students will be able to understand the difference between games and learning tools. While younger students may be confused, educators can build some short lessons virtual reality activities to introduce the topic and the importance.