digital nation - life on the virtual frontier


Teacher Center » Learning in Virtual Worlds

Learning in Virtual Worlds
Where Do You Stand?
Games People Play
The Supreme Court... Video Game?
The Avatar Effect
Video games and virtual realities have allowed us access to entirely new virtual worlds. Watch What Games Teach and explore the remarkable power of alternate realities to do much more than just entertain.

There is a robust debate about how what happens in virtual worlds may affect behaviors and actions in the real world. Researchers and educators are exploring how video games can be used in real-world ways both positive and practical; for example, in military training, medicine, mental health and education.

  • Pseudo-Identities. Throughout history, writers have adopted a second identity, a nom de plume, to disassociate themselves from their work. Today, to participate in digital environments, people use avatars, characters that users assign physical characteristics, personalities and work histories. How do our avatars reflect and shape the way we see ourselves?

  • Games for Learning. People can play games on computers, cell phones and handheld devices in the supermarket, in the bathroom and at the bus stop. But beyond the pleasure of play, what is the quality and value of these experiences?

  • Entertainment as Propaganda. Games are never neutral. They carry values and ideologies that shape people's attitudes, expectations and beliefs. Should games be used to motivate and inspire children and teens to learn about the judicial system? To join the Army?

Online Resources include:
WATCH: Check out the featured videos and activities on video games and learning.
PLAY: Take the "Games People Play" quiz and see how much you know about adults who play video games.
RATE: Use Where Do You Stand? Rate your level of agreement concerning the educational value of digital games.
READ: Learn more through informative one-page readings.
COMMENT: Can effective use of video games promote genuine learning?

Learning Objectives:

In this workshop, you will:

  • Understand that cognitive and intellectual skills acquired from playing video games can be relevant to other aspects of school, work and social life
  • Reflect on how online identities play a role in people's lives in ways that are similar to and different from identities in the physical world
  • Gain knowledge of the pros and cons of video games in K-12 education


posted February 2, 2010

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