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The Future > The Future: Education

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message 1: by Amy, Queen of Time (last edited May 30, 2012 01:59PM) (new)

Amy | 2210 comments Mod
I just stumbled upon a link to a virtual English school, complete with a city and avatars like you would see in games like Second Life or City of Heroes.

Check out the video: http://vimeo.com/35369470

So, what do you think? Is this the future of online education? Would you be interested in taking language classes this way? I know I would. It's certainly cheaper than moving to a new country. You don't have to worry about student visas, etc. I have to admit that I'm impressed.


message 2: by Tej (new)

Tej (theycallmemrglass) | 1725 comments Mod
Its all very nice and intriguing and I can see its attraction to an online savvy person or MMORPG games players. But despite my love for all things futuristic, IT, and tech; the cyber world is an area I find very unhealthy. I have played Secret Life and while its enjoyable escapism, its dangerously possessive. As for learning English this way, Amy's list of benefits are certainly plus points. But personally if say I wanted to learn French in a techy way, and couldnt afford to go to France, I would then prefer a video conferencing of lectures and classes. Surely that has the same benefits plus you converse with real faces not fake avatars. Conversing with Avatars is just simply disturbing to me! And when I want to go for a coffee, I want a real coffee, my stomach cant digest digital coffees and cakes!


Cheryl is busier irl atm. (cherylllr) | 881 comments I think I like the idea. But I'd def. want it to be just a game, and just enough to supplement f2f (or at least video-conferencing or long-distance learning with a real teacher). There's nothing as helpful as unscripted feedback. Avatars aren't going to get impatient with you, or amused by you, like the real people you'll meet when you actually do communicate with a native...


message 4: by Amy, Queen of Time (last edited Jun 05, 2012 09:20PM) (new)

Amy | 2210 comments Mod
Ah. It was my understanding that the teachers have their own avatars, so it's not really a game format as much as it is a living school where everyone is present only as an avatar. Since I work for an intensive English school, this particular educational format really piqued my interest. Our school is one of the least expensive (if not the most inexpensive) in the state. Yet, it's over 21 times the cost of learning English this way for tuition only ... not to mention living expenses. IF it's done right AND catches on, I could see it being integrated even at the university level for non-language courses. Universities that are struggling financially could thrive again by charging even half the cost of tuition and not having to keep up actual buildings, maintenance, and supplies. Insist that all educational conferences be attended in this format, and you've saved yourself on airfare, food, and hotel rooms. I wouldn't be surprised if a large portion of higher education goes to this format in the next 100 years ... or less. I could see the current social-media generation going for this concept wholeheartedly whether it's superior or not.


message 5: by Tej (new)

Tej (theycallmemrglass) | 1725 comments Mod
Yes avatars are not AI, they are like a mask for your identitiy. I am also assuming there are real teachers behind these avatars. There is no doubt about the cost effectiveness of the avatar school and Amy, you have sold it as a good option...but just an option.

I dont agree on any online learning be insisted on by universities over real class based schooling. On-site classroom based learning should always be encouraged, as you benefit from face to face, social and environmental experience, not just with teachers but other students too. The overheads may cost more, but that cost is covered by the price of the course.

The Avatar school sounds like a nice, if rather gimicky, alternative tool for those who wish to study at home. Home study courses has been an essential need and has been available for many many decades as it serves those who cannot afford or dont have the time to go to college/uni. Long ago, learning was via postal correspondencve with lecture materials/tests, audio/video tapes then later on DVDs/Blurays, etc. Then internet comes along and we can get more sophisticated online video lectures, interactive simulations, forum classroom discussions, interaction with teachers via telephone, email, or online text/viodeo chat and even real-time interactive classes. At its heart, the Avatar school is the same thing, an online home study tool but with a MMORPG style sophisticated GUI interface. Would an Avatar school really be that more beneficial than other home study alternatives? Its just adding a fantasy cyberworld environment not unlike an MMORPG which if anything could potentially be more distracting but fun for those who like that cryberworld escapism. I am certainly not against it, as I said its a novel option.

In fact, I'd like to try it out myself once its setup. I am learning new skills all the time. My main forte was computers and network, an area I always need to keep on top of with new qualifications. But I now also do other things like video editing plus I am now also a qualified professional fitness trainer. I studied all this both online and by going to college. By far, I find learning at college to be the most absorbing, socially invigorating, and motivating way of learning. Left to your own devices and you rely on self discipline and self motivation which is not an easy thing. But I also need the online studying as I cant afford to learn everything at college plus, there is a lot of flexibility in which I have instant access to video tutorials, tests, interactive simulations and windows of opportunity to speak to a teacher either via telephone, email or online text or video chat. They are very good and very effective.

So a very firm YES to having this Avatar school as an OPTION but never ever as a replacement for the real thing and certainly not to be encouraged as the better alternative.


I love watching films set in the future where cyberworld dynamics dominate society but I sure as heck dont want that future! Has anyone seen Surrogates with Bruce Willis? Its an excellent scifi movie that shows the pro's and cons of an Avatar based society :)


message 6: by Scott (new)

Scott (artrobot) Sure, any virtual environment should only supplement other real social experiences but I love the idea of immersing myself in a language and culture different from my own in a way I couldn't do in reality. Personally, I would probably gravitate to something more entertaining if given the option. I’m sensing some skepticism toward virtual world and video games in this thread so far, so I’m not sure if many here will agree, but popular Video Games have the potential to offer a wealth of education. Some have flirted with education already. One in recent years, was Rocksmith which seemed a more educationally evolved version of Guitar Hero in some ways.

Jane McGonigal (janemcgonigal.com) has been talking about some unique ways video games can be used for education, and making the world a better place in general by tapping into gamers (and perhaps all people’s) goal oriented approach to solving problems.

I am a fan of "open world" games with a world to explore and I was particularly awed by a game that took place in fifteenth-century Italy. There were "collectibles" that could be gathered throughout the game that gave some brief history for various real life locations and people. The dialogue was mostly Italian accented English but real Italian was sprinkled in for flavor where the meaning could be inferred from the context. The optional subtitle option also translated this Italian into English so I began to pick up a few phrases. Since the game centered on an Assassin, they were not overly useful Italian phrases but I was excited by the potential. I’m not sure how many fans of Video Games are here, but I help make them so I may be a little biased. Games can cover at least as many genres as film and television. I would love to play an entertaining comedy/drama about an American who must move to a foreign land (maybe even another timeperiod) and learn to adapt to and survive in that culture.


message 7: by Dan (new)

Dan | 60 comments I think Scott is right that there is a huge potential to attract children to learning via virtual games. The technology is so good, and presumably getting better. My only caution comes from my being a scientist. With regard to any educational methodology it needs to be evaluated using the scientific method: Ask a question (such as, does this method improve student learning compared to not using this method?), set up an experiment to test it, including appropriate controls (e.g., look at two groups of students that are large enough so the results are statistically meaningful, one group uses only classroom instruction, the other supplements that with the game), and evaluate the outcome. That is the only way to truly find out if the game (or anything else) is actually achieving its goal. I am constantly frustrated when I see claims being made that a product improves this or that, but there is no scientifically valid evaluation to back up the claims.


message 8: by Jeffdavids (new)

Jeffdavids | 1 comments This is a very sensitive topic for me. I hope that coursework help at EssayBison will be a part of this future. You know why? Because it cares about students, unlike their teachers or parents. I believe that these types of services are a necessary part of today's education and should be taken more seriously.


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