Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Gaming and Virtual Environments

Certain games and virtual environments can contribute to the learning experience, but each has its own separate advantages. Games can enable teachers to better serve each student individually. I utilize programs such as Fast ForWord and Odyssey, in my classroom on a daily basis. These games reach each student at their own skill and ability level. They make differentiated instruction much easier on the teacher and more enjoyable for the student. The learning experience can also benefit from the use of virtual environments, however, I do not incorporate anything of this nature in my classroom at this time. I would like to find a free service that would allow me to design a virtual world just for my students (parents and administrators are still slightly afraid of allowing their students' online experiences to be open to the public). I believe virtual environments would be useful to use with students to begin developing the skills and attitudes they need to become good citizens. I also think my ESOL students would benefit from interacting with others in a virtual environment setting. It would help them build vocabulary and increase their confidence in using the English language. Unfortunately, I face the objections of parents and administrators who are concerned with student privacy. My hope is that parents and administrators will become more familiar with these new technologies and the benefits that they offer the students and be less likely to object to their implementation within the classroom. Maybe I need to put together an information and training session for those with fears and doubt.