Social media and virtual worlds can enhance teaching and facilitate learner engagement, yet the uptake of these tools in the classroom has not been widespread. A number of studies have recently been carried out to discover what prevents teachers from using social media and virtual worlds. The technology is developing fast, are the teachers ready? How can we teach the teachers?
This year’s ONLINE EDUCA BERLIN will feature several sessions looking at enhancing the digital literacy of teachers and exploiting social media and virtual worlds for education.
Ilaria Mascitti will be presenting the results of the EU-funded “Added value of teaching in a virtual world” (AVATAR) project. The aim of the AVATAR project was to enhance the level of ICT use in education by providing teachers with the training and tools needed to use virtual worlds in the classroom.
The study began by researching and assessing existing virtual world platforms. After the initial phase, a course on teaching and learning in virtual worlds was designed for secondary school teachers.
The course was designed for the secondary school curriculum and promoted the idea of learning by doing. Participants explored virtual worlds, sharing their experiences and reflections with other participants. Areas covered were the educational design of virtual world teaching, building and managing virtual objects and learning environments, and suggestions for learning activities in virtual worlds.
Around 120 secondary school teachers in six EU countries piloted the course. The teachers developed project work in a virtual setting with their pupils. The disciplines included science, mathematics and literature.
Initial results of the AVATAR pilot studies suggest that using virtual worlds with a suitable pedagogical approach enhances collaborative learning, learning by reflecting and doing, and offers a greater sense of learner autonomy and social empathy.
Details of the project and best practice advice will be presented by Ilaria Mascitti in Added Value of Teaching in Virtual Worlds: Lesson Learnt from the AVATAR Project.
More information on the other OEB sessions which will explore how to train teachers in the use of social media and new ways of incorporating web 2.0 and virtual worlds in the classroom is available on our website.