MULTIVERSE MAZE MASTERS development begins, watch the intro video

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Multiverse Dragon Masters Evaluation of the Pilot Course

Multiverse Dragon Masters for Elementary Reading Literacy:

Evaluation of the Pilot Course

Salie Davis

Designing Online Learning Environments

(2017SP1-EDU-681103-01)

Professor Mark Lewis

Empire State College

April 28, 2017

Multiverse Dragon Masters, Evaluation:

Multiverse Dragon Masters is a 3d simulation and game based curriculum based in a virtually immersive learning environment. The pilot was designed for age groups with flexibility based on student level and ability, between 6-11 years olds (primary grades) for goal based learning. In addition the primary evaluation form was goal based evaluation (McNamara, 2008). This could be expanded to 12-15 (secondary grades) with evolving curriculum and for advance application with design tools for in world storybook and literary project creation. The pilot was tested by my two daughters, one age 9, and the other an adult home educator of preschool children, as well as two college associates.

My educational goals were to design projects and experiences that are personal and relevant to the learner. My 9 year old daughter whom is home instructed, is below her reading level for her age. The design of this pilot was with her special needs in mind, as well as to produce quality presentations through the use of technology that can be shared with the online community.

On both the website and in the virtual world graphics and text combine to increase the impact on learning. Using this principle the fact that the animation in virtual worlds is more engaging to children in an e-learning environment that a static text based or even interactive chat based website is supported(Clark & Mayer, 2016, p. 71) This is also based on the arousal that emotional attachment promotes learning. The virtual world environment allows for both synchronous and asynchronous learning, where the student can interact with the lesson plan independently or with the instructor, parent and/or other participants. One college associate commented that the title of “Multiverse Dragon Masters” created psychological engagement even before beginning the pilot project.

The supporting website also give additional asynchronous learning opportunities and lesson plan preparation. It allows for the application of the embodiment principle because the avatar programming mimics human gestures in line with live voice interactions, increasing stimulation contributing to learning (Clark & Mayer, 2016, p. 192). Virtual worlds can be individually designed to better adhere to the concurrency principle by avoiding streaming audio, music and ambient noises and using sounds only when beneficial for motivational engagement with the learning content. The individual avatar controls also allow for the content user to adjust sounds, movements and other features to align with personal preferences. In this the user can choose to eliminate ambient noise, sound effects, streaming music, etc. In a virtual world the importance of immersion is highlighted. It is a very specific platform with many possibilities but may not be appropriate for all learners. Deciding on an appropriate audience and content rating will also be essential in its development.

The redundancy principle is supported with this reduction in unnecessary audio when using visual text as the audio may reduce the knowledge absorbed from the lesson (Clark & Mayer, 2016, p. 139). Choosing only beneficial graphics and limiting the over use of graphic, as well as keeping word choice simple and concise are all conducive to learning according to the coherence principle (Clark & Mayer, 2016, p. 165) I can apply the contiguity principle in the virtual world environment by creating corresponding printed words with graphics or slide show with images and words, similar to an online storyboard. Points, tokes, prizes and awards through exploration, games and quizzes will instructors and parent gauge the success of the leaning platform.

Through my research one concern was that the personalizeation features in virtual worlds my become more of a distraction to learners and ultimately outweigh the educational benefits. (p.12, Dickey 2010) Allowing the 9 year old participant to make choices based upon limited selection, rather than teaching the technology tools of actual avatar design, I found that the pilot student was not distracted in the same way described by teachers in prior studies. In addition Personalization Principle, points out the benefits of these features in motivating students (Clark and Mayer, 2016). My adult daughter did report spending time working on her avatar and struggling with the technology aspect, in other words, she wanted to completely personalize her avatar but did not have the time to learn the technology. I ended up spending a few hours with her just to help her get her avatars appearance “just right”. With the two other college associates, I provided a ready made avatar and offered the options to adjust. I found with an avatar that was not “their own” they did not use the personalization features and simply continues with the lesson plan as laid out in the virtual world.

In this lesson plan the goal was to create a virtual world that encouraged reading in a game based environment. While working one on one with the 9 year old student she was motivated to read the story boards and read the quizzes for the opportunity to earn items she could then create her own story book scenes with. She enjoyed the idea of taking pictures of her creations with her own avatar as the main character. The one on one interaction in an online virtual world enhanced her motivation and interests in participating in reading chat and other required readings within the virtual platform in order to participate as she explored different areas and progressed through the game, learning to correctly identify words, and read simple to more advanced sentences throughout the virtual experience. The student was very interested in earning her own space to design in the virtual world, and kept asking me when I would be putting in more rewards, challenges and traps.

For this pilot program I planned a 30 minute walk through with 30 minutes of individual exploration. I had intended this to simulate the one on one goal of instruction. The college associate participants and myself were unable to coordinate schedules to meet online for this walk through. This impacted and lessened the affect of the pilot. Though I offered resources to aid in understanding the technology platform, time was a barrier and these resources were not utilized due to the learners time constraints. Instead I relied on the website resource and written support as an overall presentation of the game features and curriculum.

My adult daughter was able to meet with me one on one and this made her transition to a new technology format easier, thus enabling individual exploration. I will be creating an individualized pdf with visual screen shots as an improvement to the course as well as more training resources for new avatars within the virtual world. This will include a virtual orientation center that will teach movement controls and other aspects of the technology needed for success.

A parent teacher guide is also useful and I was able to implement many of these concepts into the starting point in the virtual world. Having these resources in world is essential and I will be developing PDFs of the same resources when applicable that specifically address subject matter concerning virtual worlds and the educational use of them for children on the companion website. Other parent guides resources include the user agreement both in world and on the website explaining the open access of virtual worlds and the responsibility of the parent and educator to supervise the sue of the virtual world. Help documentation such as how to create a child avatar and other useful tips and directions will also be available.

The subject content used in this virtual pilot began with reading and comprehension. In addition to reading literacy, digital literacy is also expanded though not a direct part of the lesson plan. Through observation I have seen improvement in the 9 year old student with technology use and in vocabulary recognition. The lack of technology skills with this new platform did surface as a barrier more so with the adult learners that the child learner in this pilot course. This supports the research that compared to the often problematic adaptation to new technologies experience by adults, children “…easily adapt to graphic and conceptual abstraction…often have extensive experience in navigating 3D spaces and discovering and exercising interface affordances” (p. 1 Roussou).

I was able to design the world then export it to a private server which is ideal for individual families who need added security and have privacy and safety concerns with online access. I then started from scratch, rebuilding the aspects I found most useful and continue with my experimentation in the online version. I have been exploring Sim on a Stick or “Simonastic” and other ready made servers such as Dreamworld and virtual world venues that do not require internet connections. Eventually I may want to move to a stand-alone platform such as can be found at www.Simonastick.com . In the future I can design and distribute an Oar file for download as an open source educational resource.

As an educator, creating a help sheet to assist learners in finding and setting controls for security and privacy would also be appropriate. This can be done real-time through virtual sessions using video, audio, or text. It can be done through the creation of PDFs that also have accessibility features built in, or it can be done by instructional video. Though the videos I have on my companion website were not specific to the pilot in terms of orientation, the college associate participants commented that the found the videos which addressed the ethics of using online virtual worlds with youth, aided them in their comfort level in taking the pilot course.

Through the first phase of this lesson plan students were able to explore the island, collect items for points, and take quizzes that rewarded for correct answers. The collection of “butterflies” awarded tokens and were accompanied by a notecard that provided instructions. The college associate participants expressed confusion at how to collect these tokens even with the written instructions. My adult daughter and 9 year old daughter benefited from a one on one demonstration. This reinforces the benefit of video tutorials in future designs. Story boards introduced the students to an underlying story plot. Students were also be able to create their own story line using screen shots, adding text and future participants could creating their own story boards that could be placed in world. Though these instructions were in world the college associate participants responded better to the pdf outline on the accompanying website than the in world resources. This identified that though students may find the virtual world a sufficient platform for information, the website and more traditional forms of content delivery may be essential for parent and teacher support. Students and parents can access the lesson plan online, again with parent supervision, will find resources and information will be presented on my current website Wopoli.com and eventually the option of my Facebook page. Future exploration of programs will also allow for quizzes to be saved or even emailed to the instructor. According to quality standards creating additional resources such as a netiquette guide (Quality Matters, 2014).

Resources

Briggs, D. C., Diaz-Bilello, E., Peck, F., Alzen, J., Chattergoon, R., Johnson, R., & …

University of Colorado at Boulder, C. (. (2015). Using a Learning Progression Framework to Assess and Evaluate Student Growth. National Center For The Improvement Of Educational Assessment

Carver, L. B. (2016). Teacher Perception of Barriers and Benefits in K-12 Technology Usage. Turkish Online Journal Of Educational Technology – TOJET, 15(1), 110-116. Retrieved on April 15, 2017, from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1086185

Clark, R., and Mayer, R. (2016) e-Learning and the Science of Instruction. John Wiley, and Sons Inc., Hoboken, N.J.

Davis, S. (2017). Multiverse dragon masters. Retrieved on April 16, 2017, from https://OSgrid/region/Multiverse%20Dragon%20Masters/164/137/23

Definitions in lesson plan (2015) Retrieved from https://www.oxforddictionaries.com/

ESRB, Entertainment Software Rating Board, retrieved from, https://www.esrb.org/ratings/ratings_guide.aspx

Dickey, M. (2011). The pragmatics of virtual worlds for K-12 educators: investigating the affordances and constraints of Active Worlds and Second Life with K-12 in-service teachers. Educational Technology Research & Development, 59(1), 1-20. doi:10.1007/s11423-010-9163-4. Retrieved on April 5, 2017, from http://eds.b.ebscohost.com.library.esc.edu/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=36&sid=817138c4-5817-4070-bc0c-c98ffbb32835%40sessionmgr104&hid=108

Hickey, D. d., Ingram-Goble, A. A., & Jameson, E. M. (2009). Designing Assessments and Assessing Designs in Virtual Educational Environments. Journal Of Science Education & Technology, 18(2), 187-208. doi:10.1007/s10956-008-9143-1

Kitely.com. (2013, August 27). Privacy policy. Retrieved on April 7, 2017, at

https://www.kitely.com/privacy (secure server).

Kitely.com. (2015, June 1). Terms of service. Retrieved on April 7, 2017, at https://www.kitely.com/terms (secure server)

McNamara, C. (n.d.) Basic Guide to Program Evaluation (Including Outcomes Evaluation). Authenticity Consulting, LLC. Retrieved from: http://managementhelp.org/evaluation/program-evaluation-guide.htm

O’Connor, Eileen. (2012). Next Generation Online: Advancing Learning Through Dynamic Design, Virtual and Web 2.0 Technologies, and Instructor Attitude. Journal Of Educational Technology Systems Vol. 41(1) 3-24, 2012-2013 Retreived on 11/24/2016 from http://eds.b.ebscohost.com.library.esc.edu/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=8d09219c-4a71-44ac-87cb-072527f5880b%40sessionmgr102&vid=1&hid=104

Poskurich, George M. (2015). Rapid Intructional Design. Wiley publications

Quality Matters (2014) Non-annotated Standards from the QM Higher Education Rubric, Fifth

Edition. Retrieved from: https://www.qualitymatters.org/sites/default/files/PDFs/StandardsfromtheQMHigherEducationRubric.pdf

Roussou, M. (2002). Immersive interactive virtual reality and informal education. Foundation of the Hellenic World. Retrieved on April 3, 2017, from http://ui4all.ics.forth.gr/i3SD2000/Roussou.PDF

Wiggins, G., & McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding by Design (Expanded ). Alexandria, US: Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development (ASCD). Retrieved from http://www.ebrary.com.library.esc.edu

Multiverse Dragon Masters Analysis and Design Document

Multiverse Dragon Masters for Elementary Reading Literacy

Salie Davis

Designing Online Learning Environments

(2017SP1-EDU-681103-01)

Professor Mark Lewis

Empire State College

April 28, 2017

Multiverse Dragon Masters for Elementary Reading Literacy

Introduction:

Multiverse Dragon Masters is based on backward design, simulation and game based curriculum with the goal of a virtually immersive learning environment. The target age groups with flexibility based on student level and ability, is 6-11 years olds (primary grades) for goal based learning. This can be expanded to 12-15 (secondary grades) with evolving curriculum and for advance application with design tools for in world storybook and literary project creation. My educational goals are to design projects and experiences that are personal and relevant to the learner (specifically my daughter whom is home instructed as well as my grandchildren when they reach the age where this content will be beneficial,) Another goal will be to produce quality presentations through the use of technology that can be shared with the online community.

Definitions and Mode of Delivery:

The definition of an online virtual world in its application for use with youth is a 3D multi-user environment with user-generated content. It is defined as an online, computer based and browser based virtual reality platform hosted on a “grid” or “hypergrid” which is a grid on a company owned or private server. I have chosen to use kitely.com as the development grid for this pilot project. Kitely.com requires anyone under the age of 13 to be supervised by a legal guardian while using their site and limited to areas rated “general”. Avatars who are 13 years of age to 18 years of age are limited to “moderate” rated worlds. These guides are based on self regulation and communal governance and peer reporting to enforce. (Kitely.com, 2017) The positive aspects are that educational exploration is part of the public platform and Kitely.com is open and accessible to family and youth participation.

Cost and Time Analysis:

A cost analysis was necessary when deciding upon the mode of curriculum delivery. Time considerations, were also part of this. Building environments, creating lessons, and implementation of lessons are a small part of the time investment concern. Getting absorbed into the entertainment aspect and the non-educational applications are cause for greater concern among educators. Education vs entertainment was identified in studies as one of these concerns in time application. Teachers commented that they themselves were distracted by the immersive environment and individualization options within the virtual world environment. The example given, spending hours adjusting their personal avatars appearance after school hours. The personalizeation features in virtual worlds my become more of a distraction to learners and ultimately outweigh the educational benefits. (p.12, Dickey 2010) In addition many educators feel the cost is insurmountable. “The cost of both procurement and maintenance of various sophisticated devices to create an immersive environment made mass use of this technology prohibitive.” (p. 30 , Merchant et al) With current access to the internet widespread and hyper-grids becoming greater in numbers this cost has been reduced. Both Merchant and Dickey cited cost and accessibility as major factors that limited access yet with the increase in widespread internet connectivity acknowledged that online virtual worlds are realistic options for educators. Though there is no financial outlay in the actual designing of the virtual world, the value of time equivalent is still beneficial in determining the feasibility of the project. Through readings concerning experts who have studied learning theories and practice in emerging technologies, I have explored situated cognition, simply stated that knowing is not able to be separated from doing. One theory I connected with is the concept and application of backwards design in education. In this lesson plan the goal will be to create a virtual world that will encourage reading in a game based environment. The result will be interpreted according to the interests of the student as they explore different areas and progress through the game, learn to correctly identify words, and read simple to more advanced sentences throughout the virtual experience.

Because this is an independent learning module, it is without the support and sometimes hindrances found in educational institutions. The online platform costs twenty dollars per month to host on the Kitely servers. Programming tools such as the game kit was an additional one time outlay of ten dollars. Other costs associated with the game is mesh designs that are not open source or cannot be found easily to cover all possibilities I budget in five dollars a month for these expenditures. With careful game design one can be sure to purchase exportable options or use only open source and plan to export the world onto their own private server, eliminating additional monthly costs. Non-monetary cost such as time investment I have determined to be Ten dollars and hour, the equivalent of my hourly wage when employed. The initial phase of development requires an average of two hours a day for one month to design the actual virtual world, learn and implement the technologies needed and create the curriculum with rewards, challenges and traps to encourage learning. The benefits of being able to design a personalized virtual world is well worth the initial and ongoing investment. I have begun this by purchasing this virtual real-estate on February 14, 2017. I initially purchased fifty dollars’ worth of KC credits to take advantage of a 33 percent savings. One dollar is equivalent to 300 KC. I have included as an attachment, screen captures of the design in progress and current account statements.

Overview of Pilot Preparation and Delivery:

For this pilot program the content will be delivered in a 30 minute walk through with 30 minutes of individual exploration. The walk through will consist of a presentation of the game features and curriculum and guidance through live in-world chat and voice. I have realized that some pre-course preparation is needed. An online resource to get started is, http://inspiration-island.com/educational-projects/virtual-world-survival-guide/getting-started-in-virtual-worlds/ and once set up, http://inspiration-island.com/educational-projects/virtual-world-survival-guide/ . It is a course designed by another virtual world group, however using the resources already available saves time and resources I can then apply to actual leaning content. This pilot project assumes the student already have access to and knowledge of virtual worlds, so anyone that participates will need to be coordinated with prior to help them quickly set this up. This preparation shouldn’t take more than 30 to 60 min depending upon the individual. An additional support platform will be in blogposts and videos on WoPoLi.com. An in-world link to this site will also be located in the Multiverse Dragon Masters great hall, the entry point to the virtual world. This will include video and pdf versions of some of the educational content that is found in the virtual world.

A parent teacher guide is also useful that will specifically address subject matter concerning virtual worlds and the educational use of them for children This includes rating guidelines for entertainment gaming. “EVERYONE 10+ Content is generally suitable for ages 10 and up. May contain more cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language and/or minimal suggestive themes” Other parent guides resources will include the user agreement both in world and on the website explaining the open access of virtual worlds and the responsibility of the parent and educator to supervise the sue of the virtual world. Help documentation such as how to create a child avatar and other useful tips and directions will also be available.

Supporting Research for Mode of Delivery:

As different learners operate at different levels sometimes outside of traditional guidelines, I have found benefits of designing flexible lesson plans that can be adjusted based on an understanding of the individual students’ needs rather than purely relying on age or grade based standards. The content of this learning module can be the instructors’ choice as singular or multiple lesson plans focused on any literacy and the appropriate creative based learning activities. “The assumption underlying the rapid rise in the use of desktop-based virtual reality technology in instruction is the unique affordances that it offers in enhancing learners’ cognitive skills” (Merchant et al (2014). With online virtual worlds customization the benefit exists to tailor the world for specific student needs. Research has shown that “…games sh0w higher learning gains than simulations…” (Merchant et al (2014).

In the paper, Purposes for literacy in children’s use of online virtual world Club Penguin, by Jackie Marsh, the author studied 26 children aged between 5 and 11 to determine the affects of online virtual worlds on literacy. The virtual world chosen was found to have a motivational and fun factor that encouraged reading and writing. Through this study the author was able to conclude that the use of virtual worlds is part of the digital generation. In spite of risks that may be involved it is likely that these platforms will continue to grow in popularity. Virtual worlds when guided by responsible adults can offer the opportunity for children to improve upon literacies. The author also concluded that interactions within virtual worlds were as beneficial as offline activities.

Subject content that can be used in this virtual platform will begin with reading and comprehension, but can expand to art, history, mathematics, music, science and technology, can be added to or subtracted from based upon the interests and level of the student. In addition to reading literacy, digital literacy is explored in technology concepts of game design as well as learning and using online tools to access the material. The whole concept of exploring digital media is intertwined in the overall teaching platform I will be creating. The digital content itself is available as open source and a primary resource can be found here, http://www.hypergridbusiness.com/2017/03/virtual-world-educational-content-shop-launches-at-osgrid/ .

As my daughter gets older, an online journal through Google Docs will be incorporated to record learning and personal reflection. This will also promote the next phase of literacy; writing. For younger students parent participation is essential in the virtual world environment to introduce them to the technology they will be using and supervise them in a public forum environment.

Overcoming Challenges in Content Delivery:

Privacy and security controls, avatar ratings and restrictions, virtual world ratings, controls, and restrictions and private spaces are all options currently offered in the virtual environment. You can restrict your communications from being seen or heard outside your world or limit it to a certain distance inside your world. With so many intricacies in privacy settings and allowances it is very easy for new participants in the technology to be caught off guard and not realize the lack of privacy in this public space. Even when you are on an island alone or with a friend, if you do not own the island or if you are not aware of all the ways to limit and block who sees your information, it is always best to assume you are always being watched either by the island owner or grid administrators. It is essential for educators to learn the technology associated with any platform they use and read the privacy policies. Using Kitely.com as an example, one sentence alone describes the largest security threat to privacy without clearing explaining options you could or should use to protect yourself “Some of your personal identification information may be shared with other users when you interact with them or their proxies using our service.” (Kitely Privacy, 2013, par. 6)

The terms of service gives a little more information concerning how the world manager can control privacy in the world they manage.

“Representations and Warranties of World Managers

A World Manager is a User who has created a Virtual World.

Each World Manager is responsible for managing his or her Virtual Worlds, and will be put in charge of controlling the activity of the Users who visit her or his Virtual Worlds (“Your Visitors“).

A World Manager may designate access restrictions, in order to prevent certain Users from entering or being a part of his or her Virtual Worlds in any way (“Access Restrictions“). You hereby undertake that you shall proactively institute such Access Restrictions to comply with all applicable laws and prevent violations of these Terms by Your Visitors.” (Kitely terms of service, 2015, para 5).

According to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), educators, “will have to take some steps to safeguard the identities of any students they bring into a virtual world. Also, while there are likely to be more than one way to be FERPA-compliant, the easiest way is to host your own private grid (or rent private grid space from a hosting service provider) and further, set-up the permissions on the grid to only allow faculty-level avatars to hypergrid jump in or out of the grid (and to prohibit non student avatars from hypergrid jumping into the grid).” (Educator Commons, 2017)

In addition the lack of technology skills has been identified as a primary barrier. The research has shown “… a significant gap between teachers’ perceptions of the importance of integrating technology and their classroom use of these skills.” (p. 111, Carver, 2016) Though teachers feel technology is important they do not teach or use technology in the classroom. Compared to the often problematic adaptation to new technologies experience by adults, children “…easily adapt to graphic and conceptual abstraction…often have extensive experience in navigating 3D spaces and discovering and exercising interface affordances” (p. 1 Rousou). Pre-lesson preparation and one on one instruction will overcome most of these challenges.

Once the world is designed it is possible to export it to a private server which is ideal for individual families who need added security and have privacy and safety concerns with online access. In addition, when encouraging the access on an open platform, accessibility may be an issue for some. Accessibility options for disabilities are not built into the virtual world platform that I will be using, so in this regards there may be barriers to accessibility. This curriculum will only be used by parents who are acquainted with and comfortable in the virtual world platform when using it in conjunction with their own children. Because of this accessibility is not a concern though still worth exploring. Though accessibility tools are not built into this technology platform, a number of tools that can be used for accessibility are.

Addressing Accessibility Concerns:

Virtual worlds require a level of technological comfort and ability. Although I hope to design a general curriculum that others can use, the technology is restricted by what it is designed to do. The format I have chosen uses chat pods for social interaction and the programs use “notecards” and other text based communications. However it also has voice enabled functions for real time communications. “Communication in virtual world can take both verbal and nonverbal forms.” (p. 36, Hew and Cheung, 2010) Voice, avatar animations and chat are the primary forms of communication live in world, while signs, note cards, video, music, websites and links, animations and visual display of objects are communications used on an individual basis not related to live communication. In this example accessibility for the visually impaired will be in screen enlargers and in the pre-designed sizing options within the virtual world environment. Hearing impaired, again would be technological tools to increase volume and turn off back ground noises such as ambient sound effects within the tools developed on the platform. As an educator, creating a help sheet to assist learners in finding and setting these controls would be appropriate. This can be done real-time through virtual sessions using video, audio, or text. It can be done through the creation of PDFs that also have accessibility features built in, or it can be done by instructional video, again sites like YouTube had accessibility built in with captioning and other options available. Eventually I may want to move to a stand-alone platform such as can be found at www.Simonastick.com.

Lesson Content Delivery:

Through the first phase of this lesson plan students will be able to explore the island, collect items for points, and take quizzes that will be rewarded for correct answers. Points will be subtracted to discourage guessing. Though guessing is an appropriate learning technique for children, I have identified my student as relying on it too often when using educationally designed games that reward for the correct answers but have no negative impact when wrong answers are chosen, This makes it very easy to randomly click through answers until the right ones are arrived at by chance in order to progress through the game. By allowing for smaller penalties in points and a larger reward, the student can still progress by guessing, however the progression will be much slower if doing so without completing the required reading. Story boards will allow the student to be introduced to an underlying story plot. Students will also be able to create their own story line using screen shots, adding text and creating their own story boards that can be placed in world.

If a student is progressing too slowly due to the level or vocabulary it can be easily adjusted and new quiz boards and story boards put in place. This is important as my daughter struggles in reading below her grade level. This will allow for curriculum and word choice designed at a lower comprehension level with age appropriate content instead of relying on curriculum and story books designed with younger children in mind. I can design engaging content with beginner words. This can also be used to put in signboards that will allow for scavenger hunts to find and collect items that the student can later use in the game.

As students advance another phase can be developed to engage them in the actual designing of their own virtual space. This will be a long range personal goal for the student that is easily achievable at any level and incorporated into an additional motivational reward. Saving game images that they can be published in a PDF format is also a great way to record progress and build their own story line as they advance through the virtual world. Especially since the world is always evolving, this additional project will encourage both creativity and literacy. Depending on the student’s level and time, they can work with digital tools and digital art to edit and add text, truly creating a “personalized story” based upon their virtual world experience. Students and parents accessing the lesson plan online, again with parent supervision, will find resources and information will be presented on my current website Wopoli.com or Facebook page.

Student Motivation:

Backwards planning is goal driven learning essentially project based learning where you have a final goal in mind. In backwards planning you start with the end result, the goal, and then explain to the student the steps they need to take to achieve this goal. This is beneficial because it is not a monotonous timeline of spelling words, vocabulary, or random writing prompts, presented in a disconnected format which can seem overwhelming and irrelevant to some students. Instead it can be used as a motivational tool that will bring them a personal sense of achievement and deeper understanding of the value of knowledge in accomplishing a goal. In the virtual world environment small goals and prompts can lead to achieving the larger goals in a step by step progression through the virtual world. Knowing they will be able to create their own story, students will be excited to explore and find images in world that inspire their own story line to create. With so many potential angles in a 3D environment with multiple and ever evolving themes, no two stories will ever be the same.

Cognitive learning that is interdisciplinary and project based can also enhance the engagement of students. In addition in teaching specific concepts I am able to specifically reinforce the cultural, social, and spiritual goals I have for my student. Beyond simply teaching a subject, through immersion experiences applicable concepts are learned that deepen understanding. In the platform I have chosen I can use multiple subjects in an interdisciplinary approach so that the student is immersed in a specific concepts and goals within the lesson plan. Students experience situated learning when they learn through actual application of skills to achieve the set goals. Game design requires pre-planning. It is more than just word recognition; it also requires knowing the techniques needed to navigate inside the world. research overwhelmingly supports the benefits of learning in immersive virtual worlds for students of all ages. “The contemporary notion of learning environments recognizes that meaningful, active learning takes place in complex, multi-model environments in which the learner plays an active role in constructing knowledge” (p. 2, Dickey, 2010). Research shows that 3d virtual worlds “…supported children’s exploration of identity, community and personal representation.” (p. 3 Dickey, 2010) In addition, though not fully imersive compared to virtual reality rooms and glasses, “… desktop-based 3D virtual environments … (are) shown to enhance learners’ engagement” (Merchant 2014). “Research has indicated that technology can increase student motivation, attitude, engagement and self-confidence, while improving organization and study skills.” (p. 110, Carver, 2016)

Evaluating learning outcomes:

The writing of the story line incorporates English skills, sentence structure, and vocabulary. Again this can be a participatory event with open ended prompts and through offline activities, such as adding text and narrating screen shots of the virtual world, and incorporates the child’s own imagination. As the story progresses, through student teacher interaction, the student can help create the resulting story boards that continue the game. The completion of this goal measures the success of the pilot for more advanced students. The end result can be shared either in print or electronic means. The reason project based learning is effective in the cognitive modeling process is that the learner is able to see the end goal and then through the process of and steps presented in order to create the project, the student comes to a cognitive understanding of how the knowledge learned is applied in a real world scenario. The reason this works is because each project can be tailored to the learning level of the audience in order to teach the learning standards required for their level. For example in the state of Maine no specific standards exist except that subjects must include English, language arts, math, science, social studies, physical education, health education, library skills, fine arts, Maine studies (for one year between 6th and 12th grade) and computer proficiency (for one year between 7th and 12th grade). With no standards of achievement the homeschooling parent must ensure that the goals they have for their child are met through the homeschooling program. Interdisciplinary and project based learning is a proficient way to teach multiple disciplines at once and build a portfolio to assess progression over time.

Other means of evaluation will be in the collection of points, earned for correct quiz answers, prizes and progression through different levels of the game once designed. Future exploration of programs will allow for quizzes to be saved or even emailed to the instructor.

Technology and tools used:

  1. Virtual World platform
  2. PDF Slideshow in-world presenter boards
  3. Story boards in-world
  4. Quiz boards in-world
  5. Sign posts in-world
  6. Interactive objects that will display written text required to be read for game progression

Established Goals:

  1. Students will learn about word recognition.
  1. Number recognition in word form
  2. Color recognition in word form
  3. Shape recognition in word form
  1. Students will learn technology tools to interact in the virtual world environment.
  1. Avatar controls
  2. Screen capture controls for story board projects
  1. Students will learn to recognize sentence structure.
  1. Read simple sentences for quiz completion
  2. Write simple sentences for story book creation
  1. Students will learn to use these in their own writing activities.
  2. Students will learn to document their progress through storybook creation or written journals.

Proven understanding for assessment: (Knowledge Level and Application Level)

  1. Students will read online prompts, learning vocabulary and sentence structure.
  2. Students will write vocabulary, correctly spelled, and match them to their meanings.
  3. Students will practice story creation through screen shots in world and the opportunity to use the vocabulary learned to narrate their own story.
  4. Students will document their learning experience in a journal.
  5. Students will be able to discuss content ideas and design their own virtual space in world.
  6. Students will create a picture book about their virtual adventure.

Methods of evaluation:

  1. Self-evaluation: Ask the student to self-evaluate: Was the project to big, to hard? Was it to small, to easy? What did you enjoy? What steps were you challenged by? What would you do again? What would you do differently?
  2. Observational evaluation: Mentor, parent or teacher led observation based on the outcome criteria such as progressing through the game with higher points and access to levels of the virtual world.
  3. Badging could be awarded by the instructor for project completion to be displayed in-world or printed in PDF form. Highest scores could also be displayed in-world.
  4. Graded evaluation: spelling and vocabulary tests, journal participation, and participation in discussions. Final project evaluations of story book creation or virtual space designs
  5. Peer Evaluation: Based on the goals outcome and/or set feedback guidelines. Peer badges can be awarded for specific goals if done with a larger group of peers through the voting process, an example of this in the best final project.

Resources

Beckhusen, F. (2017). Dreamworld. Outworldz. Retrieved on April 3, 2017, from http://www.outworldz.com/outworldz_installer/

Briggs, D. C., Diaz-Bilello, E., Peck, F., Alzen, J., Chattergoon, R., Johnson, R., & …

University of Colorado at Boulder, C. (. (2015). Using a Learning Progression Framework to Assess and Evaluate Student Growth. National Center For The Improvement Of Educational Assessment

Carver, L. B. (2016). Teacher Perception of Barriers and Benefits in K-12 Technology Usage. Turkish Online Journal Of Educational Technology – TOJET, 15(1), 110-116. Retrieved on April 15, 2017, from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1086185

Davis, S. (2017). Multiverse dragon masters. Retrieved on April 16, 2017, from https://OSgrid/region/Multiverse%20Dragon%20Masters/164/137/23

Definitions in lesson plan (2015) Retrieved from https://www.oxforddictionaries.com/

ESRB, Entertainment Software Rating Board, retrieved from, https://www.esrb.org/ratings/ratings_guide.aspx

Dickey, M. (2011). The pragmatics of virtual worlds for K-12 educators: investigating the affordances and constraints of Active Worlds and Second Life with K-12 in-service teachers. Educational Technology Research & Development, 59(1), 1-20. doi:10.1007/s11423-010-9163-4. Retrieved on April 5, 2017, from http://eds.b.ebscohost.com.library.esc.edu/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=36&sid=817138c4-5817-4070-bc0c-c98ffbb32835%40sessionmgr104&hid=108

Educators Commons. (2017). Help guide for educational virtual open source. OSgrid Wright Plaza. Retrieved on April 10, 2017 from and accessible through Virtual World Viewer at https://OSgrid/region/Wright%20Plaza/207/30/21

Hew, K. F., & Cheung, W. S. (2010). Use of three-dimensional (3-D) immersive virtual worlds in K-12 and higher education settings: A review of the research. British Journal Of Educational Technology, (1), 33. Retrieved on April 2, 2017, from http://eds.b.ebscohost.com.library.esc.edu/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=32&sid=817138c4-5817-4070-bc0c-c98ffbb32835%40sessionmgr104&hid=108

Hickey, D. d., Ingram-Goble, A. A., & Jameson, E. M. (2009). Designing Assessments and Assessing Designs in Virtual Educational Environments. Journal Of Science Education & Technology, 18(2), 187-208. doi:10.1007/s10956-008-9143-1

Kariuki, David, Educators open free resource shop on open grid, (2017) HypergridBusiness.com, retrieved from.

http://www.hypergridbusiness.com/2017/03/virtual-world-educational-content-shop-launches-at-osgrid/

Kitely.com. (2013, August 27). Privacy policy. Retrieved on April 7, 2017, at

https://www.kitely.com/privacy (secure server).

 

Kitely.com. (2015, June 1). Terms of service. Retrieved on April 7, 2017, at https://www.kitely.com/terms (secure server).

Linden Research, Inc. (2017). Terms of service. Retrieved April 4, 2017, from https://www.lindenlab.com/tos

Marie, Evie, Virtual World Survival Guide, (2016) retrieved from, http://inspiration-island.com/educational-projects/virtual-world-survival-guide/

Marsh, J. (2014). Purposes for literacy in children’s use of the online virtual world Club Penguin. Journal Of Research In Reading, (2), 179. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9817.2012.01530.x. Retrieved on April 8, 2017, from http://eds.b.ebscohost.com.library.esc.edu/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=817138c4-5817-4070-bc0c-c98ffbb32835%40sessionmgr104&vid=30&hid=108

Merchant, Z., Goetz, E. T., Cifuentes, L., Keeney-Kennicutt, W., & Davis, T. J. (2014). Effectiveness of virtual reality-based instruction on students’ learning outcomes in K-12 and higher education: A meta-analysis. Computers & Education, 7029-40. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2013.07.033. Retrieved on April 8, 2017, from http://resolver.ebscohost.com.library.esc.edu/openurl?sid=EBSCO%3aedselp&genre=article&issn=03601315&ISBN=&volume=70&issue=&date=20140101&spage=29&pages=29-40&title=Computers+&atitle=Effectiveness+of+virtual+reality-based+instruction+on+students%27+learning+outcomes+in+K-12+and+higher+education%3a+A+meta-analysis&aulast=Merchant%2c+Zahira&id=DOI%3a10.1016%2fj.compedu.2013.07.033&site=ftf-live

O’Connor, Eileen. (2012). Next Generation Online: Advancing Learning Through Dynamic Design, Virtual and Web 2.0 Technologies, and Instructor Attitude. Journal Of Educational Technology Systems Vol. 41(1) 3-24, 2012-2013 Retreived on 11/24/2016 from http://eds.b.ebscohost.com.library.esc.edu/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=8d09219c-4a71-44ac-87cb-072527f5880b%40sessionmgr102&vid=1&hid=104

O’Connor, E. (2011). Migrating Towards K12 in Virtual Spaces: Second Life Lessons Learned as Higher Education Meets Middle School Students. In M. Koehler & P. Mishra (Eds.), Proceedings of Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference 2011 (pp. 2192-2198). Chesapeake, VA: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE). Retrieved March 21, 2017 from https://www.learntechlib.org/p/36630.

OSgrid. (2017). Policy: Two ways to help in OSgrid. LBSA Plaza. Retrieved on April 10, 2017 from and accessible through Virtual World Viewer at https://OSgrid/region/Lbsa%20Plaza/137/135/39

PBS.org, Parents Guide to Game Ratings, Retrieved from, http://www.pbs.org/kcts/videogamerevolution/impact/esrb.html

Poskurich, George M. (2015). Rapid Intructional Design. Wiley publications

Reeves, J. (2012). OpenSim Worlds: Undersea observatory. Insights into Educational Technology. Retrieved on March 23, 2017, from http://blog.wsd.net/jreeve/opensim-worlds/

Reeves, J. (2012). OpenSim Worlds: Thoughts on Student Safety and Using OpenSim for Education, Insights into Educational Technology. Retrieved on March 23, 2017, from

http://blog.wsd.net/jreeve/thoughts-on-using-opensim-for-education/

Richardson, J. W., Bathon, J., Flora, K. L., & Lewis, W. D. (2012). NETS*A Scholarship: A Review of Published Literature. Journal Of Research On Technology In Education, 45(2), 131-151. Retrieved on April 10, 2017, from http://eds.b.ebscohost.com.library.esc.edu/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=1f6e4537-e941-4d81-9248-6f9947378036%40sessionmgr103&vid=1&hid=108

Roberts, C. (2012). Identifying and defining values in media codes of ethics. Journal Of Mass Media Ethics, (2), 115 Retrieved on April 7, 2017, from http://eds.b.ebscohost.com.library.esc.edu/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=817138c4-5817-4070-bc0c-c98ffbb32835%40sessionmgr104&vid=13&hid=108

Roussou, M. (2002). Immersive interactive virtual reality and informal education. Foundation of the Hellenic World. Retrieved on April 3, 2017, from http://ui4all.ics.forth.gr/i3SD2000/Roussou.PDF

Veletsianos, G. Emerging technologies in distance education, 2010, AU Press. Retrieved on April 18, 2017, from http://www.aupress.ca/index.php/books/120177

Wagner J. A. (2007, February 1). The school of second life: Education online creating new avenues of pedagogy in a virtual world. Edutopia. George Lucas Educational Foundation. Retrieved on April 10, 2017, from https://www.edutopia.org/school-second-life

Wiggins, G., & McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding by Design (Expanded ). Alexandria, US: Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development (ASCD). Retrieved from http://www.ebrary.com.library.esc.edu

Zikas, P., Bachlitzanakis, V., Papaefthymiou, M., Kateros, S., Georgiou, S., Lydatakis, N., & Papagiannakis, G. (2016). Mixed Reality Serious Games and Gamification for smart education. Proceedings Of The European Conference On Games Based Learning, 1805-812. Retrieved on April 12, 2017, from http://eds.b.ebscohost.com.library.esc.edu/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=817138c4-5817-4070-bc0c-c98ffbb32835%40sessionmgr104&vid=47&hid=108

Video presentation for the benefits and risks of virtual worlds for youth education

 

I state “my own created content” and realized I need to clarify. I used open source content and “arranged” that content, what you see in these videos I did not build from scratch. I have taken apart some open source items that aloud remixing and created the dragon hall but otherwise all items have note cards crediting their original creators. In addition I was unable to overlay the resources due to some person tech issues with my  editing programs.

References

Beckhusen, F. (2017). Dreamworld. Outworldz. Retrieved on April 3, 2017, from http://www.outworldz.com/outworldz_installer/

Carver, L. B. (2016). Teacher Perception of Barriers and Benefits in K-12 Technology Usage. Turkish Online Journal Of Educational Technology – TOJET, 15(1), 110-116. Retrieved on April 15, 2017, from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1086185

Davis, S. (2017). Multiverse dragon masters. Retrieved on April 16, 2017, from https://OSgrid/region/Multiverse%20Dragon%20Masters/164/137/23

Dickey, M. (2011). The pragmatics of virtual worlds for K-12 educators: investigating the affordances and constraints of Active Worlds and Second Life with K-12 in-service teachers. Educational Technology Research & Development, 59(1), 1-20. doi:10.1007/s11423-010-9163-4. Retrieved on April 5, 2017, from http://eds.b.ebscohost.com.library.esc.edu/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=36&sid=817138c4-5817-4070-bc0c-c98ffbb32835%40sessionmgr104&hid=108

Educators Commons. (2017). Help guide for educational virtual open source. OSgrid Wright Plaza. Retrieved on April 10, 2017 from and accessible through Virtual World Viewer at https://OSgrid/region/Wright%20Plaza/207/30/21

Hew, K. F., & Cheung, W. S. (2010). Use of three-dimensional (3-D) immersive virtual worlds in K-12 and higher education settings: A review of the research. British Journal Of Educational Technology, (1), 33. Retrieved on April 2, 2017, from http://eds.b.ebscohost.com.library.esc.edu/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=32&sid=817138c4-5817-4070-bc0c-c98ffbb32835%40sessionmgr104&hid=108

Kitely.com. (2013, August 27). Privacy policy. Retrieved on April 7, 2017, at

https://www.kitely.com/privacy (secure server).

 

Kitely.com. (2015, June 1). Terms of service. Retrieved on April 7, 2017, at https://www.kitely.com/terms (secure server).

Linden Research, Inc. (2017). Terms of service. Retrieved April 4, 2017, from https://www.lindenlab.com/tos

Marsh, J. (2014). Purposes for literacy in children’s use of the online virtual world Club Penguin. Journal Of Research In Reading, (2), 179. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9817.2012.01530.x. Retrieved on April 8, 2017, from http://eds.b.ebscohost.com.library.esc.edu/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=817138c4-5817-4070-bc0c-c98ffbb32835%40sessionmgr104&vid=30&hid=108

Merchant, Z., Goetz, E. T., Cifuentes, L., Keeney-Kennicutt, W., & Davis, T. J. (2014). Effectiveness of virtual reality-based instruction on students’ learning outcomes in K-12 and higher education: A meta-analysis. Computers & Education, 7029-40. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2013.07.033. Retrieved on April 8, 2017, from http://resolver.ebscohost.com.library.esc.edu/openurl?sid=EBSCO%3aedselp&genre=article&issn=03601315&ISBN=&volume=70&issue=&date=20140101&spage=29&pages=29-40&title=Computers+&atitle=Effectiveness+of+virtual+reality-based+instruction+on+students%27+learning+outcomes+in+K-12+and+higher+education%3a+A+meta-analysis&aulast=Merchant%2c+Zahira&id=DOI%3a10.1016%2fj.compedu.2013.07.033&site=ftf-live

Metaversetours.com. (2015). Metaverse tours explorations of the hypergrid metaverse. Retrieved on April 10, 2017, from http://metaversetours.com/

O’Connor, E. (2011). Migrating towards K12 in virtual spaces: Second life lessons learned as higher education meets middle school students. In M. Koehler & P. Mishra (Eds.), Proceedings of Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference 2011 (pp. 2192-2198). Chesapeake, VA: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE). Retrieved March 21, 2017, from https://www.learntechlib.org/p/36630

OSgrid. (2017). Policy: Two ways to help in OSgrid. LBSA Plaza. Retrieved on April 10, 2017 from and accessible through Virtual World Viewer at https://OSgrid/region/Lbsa%20Plaza/137/135/39

Reeves, J. (2012). OpenSim Worlds: Undersea observatory. Insights into Educational Technology. Retrieved on March 23, 2017, from http://blog.wsd.net/jreeve/opensim-worlds/

Reeves, J. (2012). OpenSim Worlds: Thoughts on Student Safety and Using OpenSim for Education, Insights into Educational Technology. Retrieved on March 23, 2017, from

http://blog.wsd.net/jreeve/thoughts-on-using-opensim-for-education/

Richardson, J. W., Bathon, J., Flora, K. L., & Lewis, W. D. (2012). NETS*A Scholarship: A Review of Published Literature. Journal Of Research On Technology In Education, 45(2), 131-151. Retrieved on April 10, 2017, from http://eds.b.ebscohost.com.library.esc.edu/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=1f6e4537-e941-4d81-9248-6f9947378036%40sessionmgr103&vid=1&hid=108

Roberts, C. (2012). Identifying and defining values in media codes of ethics. Journal Of Mass Media Ethics, (2), 115 Retrieved on April 7, 2017, from http://eds.b.ebscohost.com.library.esc.edu/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=817138c4-5817-4070-bc0c-c98ffbb32835%40sessionmgr104&vid=13&hid=108

Roussou, M. (2002). Immersive interactive virtual reality and informal education. Foundation of the Hellenic World. Retrieved on April 3, 2017, from http://ui4all.ics.forth.gr/i3SD2000/Roussou.PDF

Veletsianos, G. Emerging technologies in distance education, 2010, AU Press. Retrieved on April 18, 2017, from http://www.aupress.ca/index.php/books/120177

Wagner J. A. (2007, February 1). The school of second life: Education online creating new avenues of pedagogy in a virtual world. Edutopia. George Lucas Educational Foundation. Retrieved on April 10, 2017, from https://www.edutopia.org/school-second-life

Zikas, P., Bachlitzanakis, V., Papaefthymiou, M., Kateros, S., Georgiou, S., Lydatakis, N., & Papagiannakis, G. (2016). Mixed Reality Serious Games and Gamification for smart education. Proceedings Of The European Conference On Games Based Learning, 1805-812. Retrieved on April 12, 2017, from http://eds.b.ebscohost.com.library.esc.edu/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=817138c4-5817-4070-bc0c-c98ffbb32835%40sessionmgr104&vid=47&hid=108

The Benefits and Challenges Concerning Online Virtual Worlds in Learning Games and Simulations Designed for K-12 Education.

The Benefits and Challenges Concerning Online Virtual Worlds in Learning Games and Simulations Designed for K-12 Education.

A Review of the Literature

Salie Davis

Social and Ethical Issues in the Digital Era

2017SP1-EDU-681102-01

Dr. Diane Gal

April 28, 2017

Abstract

Various online virtual world platforms are explored for applications of educational games and simulations for K-12 learning, SecondLife.com, Kitely.com, and OSgrid.org as examples. Other services exist that allow access to the hypergrid which includes private servers all over the globe. Programs also exist such as DreamWorld and Simonastick which allow for virtual world creation and use offline. Prior research is examined to determine the potential benefits and challenges in order to identify where more research needs to be conducted. This will aid educators in determining what is required for successful use of virtual worlds in learning games and simulations designed for youth and identify best practices.

The Benefits and Challenges Concerning Online Virtual Worlds in Learning Games and Simulations Designed for K-12 Education.

A Review of the Literature

Introduction:

Virtual worlds have long been known for adult interactions, technology explorations, meetings, socialization and most recently continued education applications. The majority of online virtual worlds, whether for profit entities such as SecondLife.com, or non-profit entities such as OSgrid.org, base there foundation on “…interactive entertainment products and services” (Linden Research, Inc., 2017, para 2). Education is a secondary thought for most online virtual world applications. Even with OSgrid.org which has expanding beyond a test platform for open source, lists the open source social platform as the primary use. With the use of virtual worlds in educational endeavors being limited in application and geared more towards adult audiences, the consideration of digital games, simulations and learning for K-12 student needs more research and exploration.

Research selection and definitions:

In considering the current literature and research for review it is important to identify leaders in the field of research concerning this topic. Few research papers have been written specifically studying online virtual words for youth. I did find several that address virtual simulations and learning games and their benefits that add to the overall body of knowledge on this subject and have included them as well as the more specific studies of actual online virtual worlds for use with youth.

Groups of professionals and educators often network within these online virtual worlds to offer support, resources and best practices. Though research concerning online virtual worlds specifically for use with younger children and still found lacking concerning older children, have children participate in online virtual worlds is an active and ongoing professional, and personal discussion in the online virtual world platform, companion websites and professional blogs. For this reason I have included several quotes from the server host groups themselves, virtual community partnerships and from virtual educator groups that have researched and discussed this issue.

In addition, it is essential in this discussion of research to determine a historical and definitive understanding of the term, “virtual world” also called “islands” in many online platforms. According to Merchant, Goetz, Cifuentes, Keeney-Kennicutt, & Davis immersive virtual reality has been in existence since the 1960’s. The interest in using virtual reality in professional training increased in the 1980s and by the 1990s was also being used for K-12 education further states Merchant et al (2014). The use of online virtual worlds increased in the first decade of the 21st century with Teen Secondlife and many private and educational institutions contributing to and creating virtual worlds specifically designed for youth. These include many science based applications that covered space exploration, virtual dissection, and virtual museum simulations.

For the purpose of this research literature review the definition of an online virtual world in its application for use with youth is a 3D multi-user environment with user-generated content. It is defined as an online, computer based and browser based virtual reality platform hosted on a “grid” or “hypergrid” which is a grid on a company owned or private server. This research and literature review focus’ specifically on youth under the age of 18, with particular interest in the need for future research concerning youth under the age of 13.

Virtual world classifications and uses:

Types of virtual worlds include public, institutional and private. Public worlds are known best for adult roleplay such as Secondlife. AGEPLAY- having a prepubescent avatar is a highly controversial subject due to social fears of sexual role play. This has resulted in a debate over unrealistic limitations placed non-sexual role plays since the ban of child avatars omit the reality of children in all social applications (Metaversetours, 2015). It is a growing platform for networking, and communication. “Communication in virtual world can take both verbal and nonverbal forms” (Hew & Cheung, 2010, p. 36). Voice, avatar animations and chat are the primary forms of communication live in world, while signs, note cards, video, music, websites and links, animations and visual display of objects are communications used on an individual basis not related to live communication.

Another concern is that the public platform in online virtual worlds is limited when it comes to participation among family and youth. The OSgrid bans anyone under the age of 18 and also bans all child avatars from public spaces with repercussions of account owners being blocked from all but private virtual “islands” or worlds. More than simply stating the rule, OSgrid professionals explain their philosophy as to the appropriate use of virtual worlds when used by youth. “No children, meaning people under the age of 18, are allowed in OSgrid at any time. We believe children belong on closed grids supervised by parents or teachers” (OSgrid, 2017). Secondlife also bans use for anyone under the age of 18. Much of the research concerning online virtual worlds for use in education and youth, Teen Secondlife was often a platform for research and discussion of potential options for educators. However, since 2010 Teen Secondlife was shut down with no public explanation.

Kitely.com requires anyone under the age of 13 to be supervised by a legal guardian while using their site and limited to areas rated “general”. Avatars who are 13 years of age to 18 years of age are limited to “moderate” rated worlds. These guides are based on self-regulation and communal governance and peer reporting to enforce. (Kitely.com, 2017, Terms of Service) The positive aspects are that educational exploration is part of the public platform and Kitely.com is open and accessible to family and youth participation.

Institutional organizations such as Linden Labs have always been primary in the creation and use of virtual worlds. These have been technology companies such as linden labs and used for spatial studies or other pre-commercial applications. Colleges are also a primary institution now using virtual worlds online. Research concerning the effectiveness, benefits and challenges and best practices concerning online virtual worlds in education has been increasing over the past ten years. 69% of all research on virtual worlds in education is based on the college level student. 19% on the secondary student and only 12% on the primary student (Hew and Cheung, 2010, p. 40). This shows a need for more research concerning the benefits and challenges of online virtual worlds for youth in order to develop best practices.

Private online virtual worlds is a growing trend. These are online virtual worlds with restricted or no access. It includes private islands on online grids controlled by island owners who rent server space from providers. Private business, educational, or home based servers using opensource grid technology such as dreamworld is also included in private or even public options through hypergrid technology. With this growing trend is the growing debate amongst researches as to whether technology-based learning is beneficial or is it actually detrimental in the overall health of children.

In the Article, “NETS•A Scholarship: A Review of Published Literature” by Richardson, Bathon, Flora and Lewis, the National Educational Technology Standards for Administrators (NETS-A) is analyzed. The authors in this article bring up the importance of research based conclusions and follow up research on an ongoing basis in order to establish proper guidelines for educational technology. This is the strongest point this article makes. NETS-A is relied upon by educators and educational facilities. The limitations however in both articles is that if the same studies are used to draw conclusions on the same topics. When individual researchers are not pulling from the same resources how can it be assured that the individual results or there studies and conclusions are in fact valid when comparing them to each other.

Research studies and pilot programs:

Historically learning based gaming and simulations for youth have been implemented as a hybrid of synchronous and asynchronous meetings. One pilot program completed by Eileen O’Conner involved a ten year old and a thirteen year old home schooled students. The thirteen year old adapted quickly and was able to design the buildings used in the second life science simulation. This was a blended pilot with meetings both online and in person. “The assumption underlying the rapid rise in the use of desktop-based virtual reality technology in instruction is the unique affordances that it offers in enhancing learners’ cognitive skills” (Merchant et al., 2014, para. 6). With online virtual worlds being customizable the benefit exists to tailor the world for specific student needs. Research has shown that “…games show higher learning gains than simulations…” (Merchant et al., 2014, para. 2).

In the paper, “Purposes for Literacy in Children’s Use of Online Virtual World Club Penguin,” by Jackie Marsh, the author studied 26 children aged between 5 and 11 to determine the effects of online virtual worlds on literacy. The virtual world chosen was found to have a motivational and fun factor that encouraged reading and writing. Through this study the author was able to conclude that the use of virtual worlds is part of the digital generation. In spite of challenges that may be involved it is likely that these platforms will continue to grow in popularity. Virtual worlds when guided by responsible adults can offer the opportunity for children to improve upon literacies. The author also concluded that interactions within virtual worlds were as beneficial as offline activities. The interest in virtual world participation by children can be a motivational tool for education. Research on this format is likely to continue as technologies advance. (Marsh, 2014) In addition Undersea Observatory by Justin Reeve uses simonastick as a standalone platform for the distribution of his educational virtual world application designed for youth.

Overview of Benefits and Challenges:

There is a clear distinction of benefits and challenges of online virtual worlds in K-12 education according to the researchers. Negative perceptions from educators is primary in much of the current research. Overcoming these negative perceptions will improve the benefits and success of virtual simulations for youth. Educators have a high concern for security of online virtual worlds. This concern is reflected in the public statement given by OSgrid: “No single issue has been as contentious or as difficult to address as the issue of children and child avatars in OSgrid. It is absolutely necessary for us to address the issue of child abuse and the appearance of child abuse from both a legal and moral standpoint. We believe that children, meaning people under the actual age of 18, belong on closed grids monitored and controlled by or schools” (OSgrid, 2017).

Aside from the legal standpoint and concerns, the idea of morals and ethics appear to be

the real barrier in allowing access to online virtual worlds for the purpose of education in K-12. In the Article, “Identifying and Defining Values in Media Codes of Ethics” by Chris Roberts; Roberts points out, ethics are non-legally binding. Therefore it is the cultural pressures that enforce these codes, not fear of legal repercussions. Society respects the authority of “academies” in assuming that these bodies have conducted thorough and non-bias scientific studies to back there ethical guides. For this particular review research on this topic by professional “academies” is lacking and with the rapid evolution of technology and culture is outdated. It can be debated as well that no scientific study can be fully without bias, and the publication of such studies add a second level of potential cultural influence, further deteriorating the unbiased aspects of published studies.

The ability to control a public space is identified as a primary barrier, however this becomes more of a perceptual barrier since privacy and security controls, avatar ratings and restrictions, virtual world ratings, controls, and restrictions and private spaces are all options currently offered in the virtual environment. Privacy can be controlled in the virtual world. You can restrict your communications from being seen or heard outside your world or limit it to a certain distance inside your world. With so many intricacies in privacy settings and allowances it is very easy for new participants in the technology to be caught off guard and not realize the lack of privacy in this public space. Even when you are on an island alone or with a friend, if you do not own the island or if you are not aware of all the ways to limit and block who sees your information, it is always best to assume you are always being watched either by the island owner or grid administrators. It is essential for educators to learn the technology associated with any platform they use and read the privacy policies. Using Kitely.com as an example, one sentence alone describes the largest security threat to privacy without clearing explaining options you could or should use to protect yourself “Some of your personal identification information may be shared with other users when you interact with them or their proxies using our service” (Kitely.com Privacy, 2013, par. 6). The terms of service gives a little more information concerning how the world manager can control privacy in the world they manage. “Representations and Warranties of World Managers A World Manager is a User who has created a Virtual World. Each World Manager is responsible for managing his or her Virtual Worlds, and will be put in charge of controlling the activity of the Users who visit her or his Virtual Worlds (“Your Visitors“). A World Manager may designate access restrictions, in order to prevent certain Users from entering or being a part of his or her Virtual Worlds in any way (“Access Restrictions“). You hereby undertake that you shall proactively institute such Access Restrictions to comply with all applicable laws and prevent violations of these Terms by Your Visitors.” (Kitely.com Terms of Service, 2015, para 5).

According to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), educators, “will have to take some steps to safeguard the identities of any students they bring into a virtual world. Also, while there are likely to be more than one way to be FERPA-compliant, the easiest way is to host your own private grid (or rent private grid space from a hosting service provider) and further, set-up the permissions on the grid to only allow faculty-level avatars to hypergrid jump in or out of the grid (and to prohibit non student avatars from hypergrid jumping into the grid)” (Educator Commons, 2017).

In addition, the lack of technology skills has been identified as a primary barrier for educators themselves. The research has shown “… a significant gap between teachers’ perceptions of the importance of integrating technology and their classroom use of these skills.” (p. 111, Carver, 2016) Though teachers feel technology is important they do not teach or use technology in the classroom. Compared to the often problematic adaptation to new technologies experience by adults, children “…easily adapt to graphic and conceptual abstraction…often have extensive experience in navigating 3D spaces and discovering and exercising interface affordances” (Roussou, 2002, p.1).

Accessibility and cost is seen as another barrier. Some researchers found accessible options for youth in their research, however since the publication of several of these papers that use Secondlife in their studies in 2010 or prior, Secondlife, identified by Michele Dickey in her research as the most accessible platform of virtual world educational applications with youth (Dickey, 2011), has ended their Teen Secondlife grid and bans anyone under the age of 18 on their Secondlife site. Many educators feel the cost is insurmountable. “The cost of both procurement and maintenance of various sophisticated devices to create an immersive environment made mass use of this technology prohibitive” (Merchant et al., 2014, p.30). With current access to the internet widespread and hyper-grids becoming greater in numbers this cost has been reduced. Both Merchant and Dickey cited cost and accessibility as major factors that limited access yet with the increase in widespread internet connectivity acknowledged that online virtual worlds are realistic options for educators.

Time investment was also identified by researchers to be a barrier and challenge to successful implementation. Building environments, creating lessons, and implementation of lessons are a small part of the time investment concern. Getting absorbed into the entertainment aspect and the non-educational applications are cause for greater concern among educators. Education vs entertainment was identified in studies as a major concern. Teachers commented that they themselves were distracted by the immersive environment and individualization options within the virtual world environment. The example given, spending hours adjusting their personal avatars appearance after school hours. The personalization features in virtual worlds may become more of a distraction to learners and ultimately outweigh the educational benefits. (Dickey, 2011, p.12)

Despite these challenges research overwhelmingly supports the benefits of learning in immersive virtual worlds for students of all ages. “The contemporary notion of learning environments recognizes that meaningful, active learning takes place in complex, multi-model environments in which the learner plays an active role in constructing knowledge” (Dickey, 2011, p.2). Research shows that 3d virtual worlds “…supported children’s exploration of identity, community and personal representation” (Dickey, 2011, p.3). In addition, though not fully immersive compared to virtual reality rooms and glasses, “… desktop-based 3D virtual environments … (are) shown to enhance learners’ engagement” (Merchant et al., 2014, p.30). “Research has indicated that technology can increase student motivation, attitude, engagement and self-confidence, while improving organization and study skills” (Carver, 2016, p.110).

Conclusion:

Of the virtual world hosts, Secondlife.com, OSgrid.org, and Kitely.com explored, Teen Secondlife though the primary example used by researchers closed in 2010, and Secondlife itself was difficult to grasp as a beginner, even as an adult and is not accessible to youth. OSgrid though not open to youth is a great resource for educators for networking, resources, and support. Kitely.com appears to have the best ease of access for beginners. The researchers did not explore Osgrid or Kitely as platform options. With advancing technology more and more potential platforms and options should be researchers and studied for ease of use as well as security and privacy. This is an important consideration when deciding upon the best virtual world platforms for youth. Kitely.com is also the only of the three which allow for those under eighteen in there Grid. Adult supervision is required for those under the age of thirteen and recommended for those under the age of eighteen due to the user created content. Hypergrid access can be beneficial for students over the age of thirteen with adult supervision due to the allowance of PG restrictions on the actual avatars. This means that general rated avatars are blocked from hypergriding to islands rated above general. Adult supervision would be required due to the self-regulated nature and user created content of the current hypergrid. As stated, future research should be ongoing with the rapid improvements in technology and should include a wider range of platforms for comparison studies, such as Outworldz and Craftworld. Platform options beyond open and public grids should also be part of this continued research such as Dreamworld which can be used for hypergrid from your own server or kept private. Offline applications remain the best solution for safety and security. Research on using these virtual worlds in K-12 educational games, simulations and learning however has been limited. Simonastick is a standalone offline virtual world that is easily used on any computer and though it has not yet been updated, the potential for other opensource or low cost accessible options should be monitored.

References

Beckhusen, F. (2017). Dreamworld. Outworldz. Retrieved on April 3, 2017, from http://www.outworldz.com/outworldz_installer/

Carver, L. B. (2016). Teacher Perception of Barriers and Benefits in K-12 Technology Usage. Turkish Online Journal Of Educational Technology – TOJET, 15(1), 110-116. Retrieved on April 15, 2017, from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1086185

Davis, S. (2017). Multiverse dragon masters. Retrieved on April 16, 2017, from https://OSgrid/region/Multiverse%20Dragon%20Masters/164/137/23

Dickey, M. (2011). The pragmatics of virtual worlds for K-12 educators: investigating the affordances and constraints of Active Worlds and Second Life with K-12 in-service teachers. Educational Technology Research & Development, 59(1), 1-20. doi:10.1007/s11423-010-9163-4. Retrieved on April 5, 2017, from http://eds.b.ebscohost.com.library.esc.edu/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=36&sid=817138c4-5817-4070-bc0c-c98ffbb32835%40sessionmgr104&hid=108

Educators Commons. (2017). Help guide for educational virtual open source. OSgrid Wright Plaza. Retrieved on April 10, 2017 from and accessible through Virtual World Viewer at https://OSgrid/region/Wright%20Plaza/207/30/21

Hew, K. F., & Cheung, W. S. (2010). Use of three-dimensional (3-D) immersive virtual worlds in K-12 and higher education settings: A review of the research. British Journal Of Educational Technology, (1), 33. Retrieved on April 2, 2017, from http://eds.b.ebscohost.com.library.esc.edu/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=32&sid=817138c4-5817-4070-bc0c-c98ffbb32835%40sessionmgr104&hid=108

Kitely.com. (2013, August 27). Privacy policy. Retrieved on April 7, 2017, at

https://www.kitely.com/privacy (secure server).

Kitely.com. (2015, June 1). Terms of service. Retrieved on April 7, 2017, at https://www.kitely.com/terms (secure server).

Linden Research, Inc. (2017). Terms of service. Retrieved April 4, 2017, from https://www.lindenlab.com/tos

Marsh, J. (2014). Purposes for literacy in children’s use of the online virtual world Club Penguin. Journal Of Research In Reading, (2), 179. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9817.2012.01530.x. Retrieved on April 8, 2017, from http://eds.b.ebscohost.com.library.esc.edu/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=817138c4-5817-4070-bc0c-c98ffbb32835%40sessionmgr104&vid=30&hid=108

Merchant, Z., Goetz, E. T., Cifuentes, L., Keeney-Kennicutt, W., & Davis, T. J. (2014). Effectiveness of virtual reality-based instruction on students’ learning outcomes in K-12 and higher education: A meta-analysis. Computers & Education, 7029-40. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2013.07.033. Retrieved on April 8, 2017, from http://resolver.ebscohost.com.library.esc.edu/openurl?sid=EBSCO%3aedselp&genre=article&issn=03601315&ISBN=&volume=70&issue=&date=20140101&spage=29&pages=29-40&title=Computers+&atitle=Effectiveness+of+virtual+reality-based+instruction+on+students%27+learning+outcomes+in+K-12+and+higher+education%3a+A+meta-analysis&aulast=Merchant%2c+Zahira&id=DOI%3a10.1016%2fj.compedu.2013.07.033&site=ftf-live

Metaversetours.com. (2015). Metaverse tours explorations of the hypergrid metaverse. Retrieved on April 10, 2017, from http://metaversetours.com/

O’Connor, E. (2011). Migrating towards K12 in virtual spaces: Second life lessons learned as higher education meets middle school students. In M. Koehler & P. Mishra (Eds.), Proceedings of Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference 2011 (pp. 2192-2198). Chesapeake, VA: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE). Retrieved March 21, 2017, from https://www.learntechlib.org/p/36630

OSgrid. (2017). Policy: Two ways to help in OSgrid. LBSA Plaza. Retrieved on April 10, 2017 from and accessible through Virtual World Viewer at https://OSgrid/region/Lbsa%20Plaza/137/135/39

Reeves, J. (2012). OpenSim Worlds: Undersea observatory. Insights into Educational Technology. Retrieved on March 23, 2017, from http://blog.wsd.net/jreeve/opensim-worlds/

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http://blog.wsd.net/jreeve/thoughts-on-using-opensim-for-education/

Richardson, J. W., Bathon, J., Flora, K. L., & Lewis, W. D. (2012). NETS*A Scholarship: A Review of Published Literature. Journal Of Research On Technology In Education, 45(2), 131-151. Retrieved on April 10, 2017, from http://eds.b.ebscohost.com.library.esc.edu/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=1f6e4537-e941-4d81-9248-6f9947378036%40sessionmgr103&vid=1&hid=108

Roberts, C. (2012). Identifying and defining values in media codes of ethics. Journal Of Mass Media Ethics, (2), 115 Retrieved on April 7, 2017, from http://eds.b.ebscohost.com.library.esc.edu/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=817138c4-5817-4070-bc0c-c98ffbb32835%40sessionmgr104&vid=13&hid=108

Roussou, M. (2002). Immersive interactive virtual reality and informal education. Foundation of the Hellenic World. Retrieved on April 3, 2017, from http://ui4all.ics.forth.gr/i3SD2000/Roussou.PDF

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Wagner J. A. (2007, February 1). The school of second life: Education online creating new avenues of pedagogy in a virtual world. Edutopia. George Lucas Educational Foundation. Retrieved on April 10, 2017, from https://www.edutopia.org/school-second-life

Zikas, P., Bachlitzanakis, V., Papaefthymiou, M., Kateros, S., Georgiou, S., Lydatakis, N., & Papagiannakis, G. (2016). Mixed Reality Serious Games and Gamification for smart education. Proceedings Of The European Conference On Games Based Learning, 1805-812. Retrieved on April 12, 2017, from http://eds.b.ebscohost.com.library.esc.edu/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=817138c4-5817-4070-bc0c-c98ffbb32835%40sessionmgr104&vid=47&hid=108

Introduction to Kitely and virtual worlds

If you have never visited a virtual world, to prepare for multiverse dragon masters, I recommend , http://inspiration-island.com/educational-projects/virtual-world-survival-guide/getting-started-in-virtual-worlds/ and http://inspiration-island.com/educational-projects/virtual-world-survival-guide/ It is a course designed by another virtual world group but useful for beginners.

An additional support platform for parents will be in blogposts and videos on https://WoPoLi.com. An in-world link to this site will also be located in the Multiverse Dragon Masters great hall, the entry point to the virtual world. This will include video and pdf versions of some of the educational content that is found in the virtual world. When in world spend time reading hover texts and game tip boards. Make sure to wear a HUD. Clicking on the game tip boards will also give note cards if your viewer is slow to load. Collect all the butterflies. Then you can try the two quizzes. After that you can explore. The way the system will be set up is that tokens will be redeemed for items students can use for their avatar or in their own build. Prizes will be awarded like “badges” to be created at a later time. Points can be redeemed if decided on by the parent or teacher for KC credits to purchase in world items that are not open source. Surprise treasure boxes encourage exploration and consistent positive feedback with rewards. In the actual game no item will be cable to be copied so all will need to be earned.