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Learning and Networking in the Metaverse

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Saved by Lucas Gillispie
on November 5, 2009 at 3:53:35 pm

Learning and Networking in the Metaverse


Strategic Priorities from the District Technology Plan:

1.  NC Schools will produce globally competitive students.

2.  NC Schools will led by 21st Century professionals.

Brief Summary Statement:


The focus of this program is to utilize innovative, online, virtual environments to improve student learning and to facilitate the formation of a digital, professional learning community for district educators.

Program Description: 

This is a multi-project program that revolves around the use of online virtual environments to support learning in students and professional development for teachers.  Each of these projects is described below:

1.    WoWinSchool – The first project will be the use the widely-popular online game World of Warcraft in an after-school learning program that targets at-risk youth in the district.  The development of this project, already underway, involves educators and virtual world enthusiasts from across the nation.  Lessons that utilize this virtual, fantasy-based world will focus on improving students’ skills in mathematics, reading, and writing.  Additionally, lessons focused on digital citizenship, 21st-Century skills (such as online communication and leadership), social interaction, and even science and economics are being developed.  Students will demonstrate their learning by their online interactions and project-based products such as the creation of machinima (game-based short films).  Several educators at RezEd (http://www.rezed.org/), an online community of educators using virtual worlds for learning, are making contributions to the development of this project.  The results of the project will be shared online and at conference presentations.  A wiki has been established to support this project’s development and is available to the world at http://wowinschool.pbworks.com.

2.     The Island Classroom – Our district currently utilizes an island in Second Life for professional development.  Some teachers have expressed an interest in using this virtual world technology with students.  Utilizing Second Life with students, however, is prohibitive due to age restrictions, world content, and cost.  An alternative, called Reaction Grid (http://reactiongrid.com/) that utilizes the same source code, is now available to educators with less restrictions and with a maximum content rating of PG-13.  Reaction Grid can provide the district with an island of comparable size to those available in Second Life and Teen Second Life and a fraction of the cost.  Here students and teachers can work collaboratively on virtual world-based projects in an exciting yet safe environment.  Students involved in this project will learn numerous 21st-Century skills, especially collaborating and communication in an online environment.

3.    Virtual Learning Communities – As a continuation of previous initiatives, this program will continue funding for an island in Second Life for professional development activities.  This island will serve as a location for innovative, online staff development as well as a safe place for teachers who are newcomers to Second Life and virtual worlds to “get their feet wet.”  This also supports The Island Classroom project allowing teachers to have a location to develop Second Life skills prior to initiating projects with students.


How will this program improve student academic achievement?

The broad scope of this program will potentially have a positive impact on student learning in a number of areas.  This potential impact is addressed for each project below:

1.    WoWinSchool – This project specifically targets at-risk students.  The project focuses on students’ skills, primarily in mathematics and literacy, using World of Warcraft as a vehicle for engaging student learning, and hopefully fostering their desire to succeed in school.  Research has shown that after-school, intervention programs as well as video games can be effective tools for motivating student learning.  This project marries both of those.  The nature of the game can also potentially impact students’ self-efficacy as they work collaboratively and engage a global community.

2.    The Island Classroom – This project is essentially a clean slate with nearly endless possibilities for student-teacher projects that can potentially span the district or beyond.  Teachers can develop lessons based in ReactionGrid that use the open-ended virtual world for a variety of projects and authentic assessments.  Students can develop interactive areas to demonstrate their knowledge of a particular subject, engage in digital storytelling, and develop 21st-Century skills in the process.

3.    Virtual Learning Communities - Student use of virtual worlds and virtual game environments is increasing as the underlying technology becomes increasingly accessible.  It is critical for educators to embrace, or at a minimum, experience these sorts of environments in order to better understand their students’ own experiences.  Creating an environment for professional development and networking is one avenue that can foster this.  The more exposed our educators are to these concepts the more likely they are to utilize them in their own instruction.


How will technology access be increased for all students and teachers in schools served?


     In WoWinSchool, school-based access to the online environment World of Warcraft will be provided for up to 15 students and two district teachers.  Depending on logistics, those same accounts might be utilized by district teachers as an innovative way to build a professional learning community centered on a recreational theme.  There is already an organized group of educators and researchers engaged in this both in the district and nationwide.  The Island Classroom project would be made available to all teachers and students, district-wide, while the Pender County Schools island in Second Life (Virtual Learning Communities) would be available for educators not only in our district but from around the world.


What research supports the use of your program activities?


     A growing list of supporting research and articles on the use of games and virtual worlds in education is being compiled as part of the WoWinSchool project.  That list can be viewed at http://wowinschool.pbworks.com/Supporting-Research.


Measurable Program Objective 1:  The district will implement the WoWinSchool Project with up to 15 student participants and up to two teacher participants.

Resources Needed (Human & Material) Person(s) Responsible
Budget Needs (Amount) Time-line Proposed Beginning and Ending Dates Method of Evaluation Evaluation Results
EETT 1.1 - Purchase 17 copies of World of Warcraft software plus one year subscription.

-Software purchased.

-Subscription paid.

Instructional Technology Coordinator $4100 Purchase between August 09 and September 09. Sample Purchase Order.


Note:  Purchase made in October due to funding delays.

EETT 1.2 - Install software in identified district lab. District technician or Instructional Technology Coordinator Instructional Technology Coordinator $0 Installation between August 09 and September 09. Documentation either in the wiki, blog, or other electronic medium.

Installation completed - November 3rd.

-See Wiki

-See wowinschool Twitter

-See screenshot (from wowinschool Twitter)

Note:  Purchase made in October due to funding delays.

EETT 1.3 - Identify and select participating students. Instructional Technology Coordinator, School Administrator, and/or Drop Out Prevention Personnel. Instructional Technology Coordinator $0 Students identified and selected between August 09 and September 09 List of student participants. Students' names not listed to protect privacy.
EETT  1.4 - Implement lessons with students. Teacher volunteer(s) and Instructional Technology Coordinator Instructional Technology Coordinator $0 September 09 - December 09 (and/or May 09 depending on timeline) Example student work.  
EETT/ARRA 1.5 - Present project at one or more professional conferences (NCTIES, GLS, NECC, etc.) Teacher volunteer(s) and Instructional Technology Coordinator Instructional Technology Coordinator $4704 December 2009 - December 2010

-Record of presentation.

-Sample receipt(s) for travel.

EETT 1.6 - Purcahse 17 headset/microphone combos to be used with the program. -Equipment purchased Instructional Technology Coordinator $900 Purchase between August 09 and September 09 Sample Purchase Order


Note:  Purchase made in October due to funding delays.





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