Friday, May 23, 2008

Virtual Worlds Educate Kids

A BBC-sponsored study shows that children can benefit educationally, socially, and developmentally from virtual worlds.

The study, carried out by professors at the University of Westminster, involved the BBC's own Adventure Rock, aimed at children ages 6-12. The world allows children to explore it on their own, but provides message forums, where they can share their findings and chat with other members. The virtual world is loaded with interesting features and creative workshops where the kids can create their own content.

By studying the forums and interviewing players, the study concluded that children benefited by "practicing" things they will do in the real world (IRL, or In Real Life). They largely fell into one or more of eight roles:

  • Explorers
  • Inventors
  • Social Climbers
  • Fighters
  • Collectors
  • Power-users
  • Nurturers
  • Life-system Builders
"Rehearsal" in this virtual world allowed the kids to explore different roles and facets of their personality that wouldn't be possible IRL.

© C Harris Lynn, 2008

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