The World is not enough
If students and educators are to get the most from ‘Learning in the Metaverse’ we need more interactivity. I’m in a lucky position where I have the time to hopefully add that to my worlds, but I understand most teachers don’t. They’re already under the pump and feeling burnt out. It’s a big ask of them. They’ll visit a platform, walk around inside its beautiful interior, marveling at its potential, and then never come back!
Often the simplest worlds I’ve built with teachers are the most engaging, providing the learning content is good. If the teachers buy-in then the learning becomes fun and interactive naturally. Passive worlds are a bit like posh worksheets printed on holographic paper. There’s a wow moment and then you actually have to do the worksheet. Interactive Virtual Worlds offer so much more. Imagine a video game where everyone you meet is an interaction, or a chance to collaborate and learn from. Add in external experts and problem-solving activities that mirror the real world, and you have the perfect storm for learning.
My favourite example comes from the photo above. It was taken during a lesson in ‘Reef World’.
It’s a nice world, but it will never win any awards for graphic fidelity. It features a static boat out on a reef and an assortment of 3D models that relate to conservation. Get closer though and you can hear the boat chugging. Stand on the shore you’ll hear the waves. A static hammock strung between two palm trees, the most contested spot to sit at. Hidden starfish scattered around the reef provide a short distraction in the form of hidden objects. However, it’s here that adding in real-world activities engages them on a much deeper level. In the open-air ‘beach classroom’ is a model of the crown of thorns, one of the biggest threats to the reef. A clickable map downloads a grid referenced aerial view of the world in the form of a PDF.
Students are then taught in the physical classroom how to read the map in a traditional math lesson. Learning how objects can be located and grid referenced based on their location.
Now you’ve got them on the line, they start to connect the classroom-based activity with what’s about to happen in the virtual world and the excitement becomes palpable. Unleashed in pairs they return to the reef, locating the starfish and mapping them. It’s here that the magic happens! Actively mirroring the work of real marine biologists (I’m still waiting to hear from you all), before uploading their work from a hyperlinked box on the boat to our class management system. The buy-in is absolute. No one hears the bell and those that do groan at the thought of having to leave the activity. The teacher looks up and out at the class, grinning from ear to ear. “We just did maths, science, geography, and social studies in one lesson!”
I nod, also grinning from ear to ear! Everyone clambers onto the static boat as we ‘head’ to the static low graphic shoreline where everyone rushes to grab the hammock that never swings. Switching the world to 'night mode' the entire reef goes to sleep..
“This is mint!“ exclaims a student, “Can we go back tomorrow?”
Let me show you how - www.EDUmetaverse.com.au