Virtual Learning Worlds — Where are we Headed?

A colleague of mine, Bart Pursel, has an interesting blog site that he has been working on related to what he calls, “Virtual Learning Worlds.” His concept is that the same engines that power today’s most popular games can be essentially re-skinned for education and training purposes. He is clearly onto something. If you have some time, jump over and take a look at some of his postings.

He has been pushing us to add principles of game theory to our courses and tools over the last couple of years and we’ve finally started doing just that. This Fall we’ll be rolling out a new eLearning course that is supported heavily be small interactive exercises that take game theory into consideration. Our hope is that students not only use the materials to acquire knowledge, but then spend a larger amount of time interacting with the material because it is designed as a game. When its all said and done, I think we’ll find that student retention goes up and that their overall levels of satisfaction and motivation will rise as well. We’ll be looking at it in a couple of classes to see what its really all about.

When you take the syllabus as the hub to your digital teaching and learning life concept and extend it with the ability to send students directly into engaging simulations and other game-based interactions you can start to do some very interesting things. For example, let’s say there is a simple game-based simulation that students must interact with to solidify a certain set of skills we hope they acquire … the idea would be to allow them to “play” the game over and over to practice and ultimately assess their learning. If all the students are using this same interaction on a regular basis, you can begin to pull the high scores out and list the top five students every week on the syllabus. I know for a fact it would motivate students to strive for higher scores and ultimately greater mastery of the skill set. There is so much work to be done in this space and when you start to pull it all together you begin to see how powerful a mix of all these ideas can have–>

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