February 17, 2010 by jmcdonou
Via Matt Kirschenbaum, an interesting article at the Chronicle of Higher Ed on the use of virtual worlds in the higher education arena and the drop off of interest after initial experimentation. Bonus points for the article’s author, Jeff Young, for getting something that most people don’t: 3D worlds are not the tremendous boon that virtual world evangelists have portrayed them as since the first big boom of worlds in the mid-90s. 3D worlds pay their biggest benefits when you actually need to to deal with 3D materials, and in the education setting, that is mostly for simulation of structures, whether cellular or architectural. I teach online all the time, and a 3D world would add nothing to most of my classes except a bunch of unnecessary affordances for the students to navigate to participate in the learning experience. Now, if I was teaching something like environmental design, I could see a place for using 3D worlds for some things (although not the basic classroom experience). Everyone interested in applying 3D world technologies in the educational setting should be forced to sit down and read everything Don Norman has written first. Perhaps then we’d see a bit more concern about actually ensuring that 3D technology is applied in the educational setting only when it provides an appropriate design solution to problems students might have in apprehending the information we’re trying to give them.