Virtual worlds among latest trends in language education

Students can ‘meet’ native speakers and converse informally in virtual worlds.

Learning a foreign language has long been a high school graduation requirement, but technology has taken language learning to new levels with the availability of interactive websites, apps for handheld devices, and software that can target students’ weak spots.

Technology changes quickly, and recently, a new way of teaching and learning foreign languages has emerged: using virtual worlds, such as Second Life, to increase student engagement and confidence as they build new language skills.

Virtual worlds present a relatively new avenue for language learning, although groups and conferences have focused on this instructional method for the past few years.…Read More

West Virginia looks to Second Life

West Virginia educators can now turn to Second Life for professional development.
West Virginia educators can now turn to Second Life for professional development.

On Dec. 21, 2009, the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) launched a definitive online resource for potential and current educators in West Virginia called Teach West Virginia. The WVDE uses this resource to educate teachers and the public about our 21st century learning program, Global21: Students deserve it. The world demands it. In addition, the web site provides information on available routes into the teaching profession within West Virginia. The WVDE projects that a large number of the state’s educators may reach retirement eligibility over the next decade as West Virginia is home to one of the nation’s oldest teaching work forces.

Teach West Virginia looks to be a part of the answer to this potential pitfall as it focuses on recruiting educators by providing potential candidates with fully interactive maps that display the approved teacher preparation programs and job opportunities throughout the state. It also features an interactive menu that lists the West Virginia professional teaching standards and most of the state’s certification requirements. Professional development resources are located within the “Ways to Grow” section that includes information about National Board Certification, advanced credentials and free eLearning courses offered to teachers employed within West Virginia for the purpose of certification renewal and specialized training.

Within this new resource, the WVDE has developed a unique and groundbreaking virtual world on the internet’s largest 3D virtual community, Second Life. This world is being created through a partnership with West Virginia University’s College of Human Resources and Education. Pamela Whitehouse, assistant professor of Instructional Design and Technology, is directing the production of a virtual space for Teach West Virginia, which showcases many of the things that are unique and wonderful about teaching in the Mountain State.…Read More

FTC: Virtual worlds pose real threat to minors

Virtual worlds like Second Life offer educational benefits, but also adult content.
Virtual worlds like Second Life offer educational benefits, but also adult content.

Minors are able to access explicit content in virtual worlds without much difficulty, and the operators of those virtual worlds should take steps to keep that content away from children and teenagers, according to a new report from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

“Virtual Worlds and Kids: Mapping the Risks,” also urges parents to familiarize themselves with the virtual worlds their children visit.

According to the findings, although little explicit content appears in child-oriented virtual worlds, virtual worlds aimed at teenagers and adults contained a moderate to heavy amount of explicit content.…Read More