Some high school teachers see virtual worlds more as virtual classrooms. “Second Life pioneer Peggy Sheehy, a New York teacher whose school district owns six islands on a private estate in Second Life, said virtual worlds should be seen as part of the repertoire of tools that can be used to engage this new generation of students,” the Houston Chronicle reports. “Over the past two years, Sheehy’s students have used Second Life avatars to examine body image issues, build amusement parks and re-enact Civil War battles.” Using virtual worlds, students participate more freely because they do so as avatars they create. Students can “speak” (in little bubbles of text) more freely under that veil of anonymity and no one’s more popular than anyone else. Of course, like the Internet, virtual worlds for everybody can have “places” inappropriate for students, so to win over a large number of teachers, schools, and districts, there may need to be online “worlds” designed specifically for school. Meanwhile, some researchers see virtual worlds as a way to learn more about how the real world works, as places where social scientists can do a bit of modeling, the Christian Science Monitor reports.
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