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Thursday, 10 February 2011

Virtual worlds in the classroom: taking the tyranny out of distance

Australian's are generally familiar with the term "tyranny of distance" but many won't realise it was used as the title of a book about Australian history by Geoffrey Blainey

The Tyranny of Distance' is the classic account of how Australia's geographical remoteness has been central to shaping our history and identity--and how it will continue to form our future.

As well as being hailed as a work of enduring scholarship, 'The tyranny of Distance' brings our history to life. Geoffrey Blainey recounts the fascinating story of Australia's development, from Captain Cook's bold voyages and the hardships of the early settlers, through to the challenges we face in the world today.

'This revised and updated edition examines how distance and isolation, while tamed, have always been and will remain vital to Australia's development, even in the twenty-first century 'global village'.

Next week I will be attending the DEHub summit in Sydney.
The focus is Education 2011 to 2021- Global challenges and perspectives of blended and distance learning.
The Symposium panel that I am part of on Wed 16 Feb at 3.25 pm is posing the question: Can virtual worlds take the distance out of education?

My contribution relates to what Education Services Australia has been doing in the Distance Education arena:

ImmersED in Reaction Grid 2009

* Provided an environment for educators to explore virtual worlds.

Two completed activities were 3D Safari (explore educational sims) and Job Interview Roleplay – where teachers and students could take the role of interviewer or job applicant to experience the use of virtual worlds as a role play tool.

* Supported by an edna Group http://www.groups.edna.edu.au/course/view.php?id=2420

* Video created: Immersive Learning: It’s Game On! Available via the edna Group

MyFuture Australia on Second Life 2011
* Supports delivery of career education materials by myfuture.edu.au

* Aimed at career education practitioners and Australian SL visitors

* http://bit.ly/myfutureSLhelp

Today I have been given an interesting ACER publication: Virtual Worlds. Learning in a changing world by Judy O'Connell and Dean Groom.

It begins: Virtual worlds - shared graphical spaces on the Internet - are an exciting new medium for the 21st century. They are the natural evolution of the digital technologies that are defining the 21st century, just as telephone, radio, film and TV helped to define life in the 20th century.

From the final pages: Virtual worlds challenge educators to re-evaluate teaching methods, curriculum, pedagogy, resources, beliefs, attitudes, environmnets, assessment methods and policies that have been the foundations of learning and teaching environments.

The book (51pp) will be valuable to educators for the descriptions of what virtual worlds can offer and for the selected lists, particularly of virtual world environments, where they can learn more and add online communities to their own personal learning networks. There are compelling arguments for why educators should be dipping their toes in virtual waters.

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