I’ve never been into video games, which is what this virtual reality/avatar-based environment reminds me of. I was that child who played with barbies (probably longer than I should) rather than figuring out how to control a virtual character on a screen. After watching Cooper McBeth’s video, I couldn’t help but laugh at first when I saw his avatar. To this day, I think most video games look pretty silly and I can’t get into it. I understand the importance of access and providing a variety of learning experiences through SecondLife (and other software programs), but a teacher has to be pretty tech-savvy to “build” these virtual worlds. Plus, I’m wondering if the cost makes VR unaffordable for most public school systems. The main benefit to these virtual worlds is role-playing, simulation activities that allow for skills and strategies to be practiced in a “virtual” reality before it becomes a physical reality. I read a bit on how VR is being used for military purposes and even medicinal practices, which completely makes sense to me. Students who are creating virtual content they can actually apply to their lives offers a lot of learning potential.
I did some further VR research on Google, and read that there is a VR software that allows you to take photos of different sites and “stitch” them together to create panoramas. I loved this idea for my course. If a student could create a photo documentary of how they are sticking to their 90 day action plans using VR, I’d love to see visuals of their challenges and successes. I think if a student could see another student studying in the library or eating Sweet Frog after getting an A on a test, it could further motivate other students to keep pushing themselves to reach their goals. Perhaps, a student could enter another student’s virtual world and borrow strategies for success they could apply to their own reality. I think the benefits of VR really depends on the software the teacher or the student decides to use and implement. Some look better than others.