Virtual reality has expanded the scope of education. Teachers now have the option of including many more “real life” places, people, and events in their lessons. Students can go on virtual field trips, visit fabulous galleries and museums, drop in at an archeological dig, try interactive exhibitions and so much more.
The most popular virtual site online is Second Life. This site also offers teachers the most options for including virtual features in their lesson plans. The site has contributions from across the globe.
The vastness of the site means that all student usage must be closely monitored to avoid accessing to adult content. Only adults and teens can register in Second Life. But, the content you will be using is most likely on PG areas of the Second Life site.
The problem of safety and appropriate content can be solved. As a teacher you can use your Second Life account and project the content you are using or referring to on a TV screen or white board. You will be navigating the virtual realms but students will still be amazed and fascinated at what they are seeing. In case you want your students to be the ones actively navigating by themselves, they would have to use accounts on Second Life.
Virtual Field Trips
There are countless virtual sites that make excellent field trip destinations. The National Oceanic Atmospheric Association is very popular with high school teachers and students. The association has an island in Second Life dedicated to the underwater world and their research.
Students on a virtual field trip to NOAA can board an underwater submarine –type vehicle and explore the depths of the sea, feel a hurricane or a tsunami or make a weather balloon ride. NOAA provides a virtual guide and reams of information on ocean environments.
Art teachers will be astounded at the opportunities available in virtual reality. Second Life is home to many world class museums and art galleries. For example, the Louvre in France has its virtual twin in Second Life and can be visited on a virtual field trip. Students will feel as if they are actually in France, without leaving the classroom.
There are many educational and cultural islands worth a visit were your class can see and in some cases even try interactive exhibits and simulations: Physics and Astronomy, the Tech Museum of Innovation and the International Spaceflight Museum are good examples.
Different cultures can also be explored at the click of mouse. Second life and virtual reality are bringing lost worlds back to life. You can visit virtual Africa, ancient Rome, virtual medieval times, and the virtual Renaissance. In Nigeria students can experience how ancient peoples survived in the harsh environment.
Virtual worlds make learning more fun and exciting than ever. Students will fall in love with all virtual learning. Use the platform of Second Life and show your students the possibilities of this hi-tech educational resource.
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