I applauded The Guardian's technology columnist Victor Keegan last month ago for intelligently outlining how the explosive growth of virtual worlds across all major demographics means we may see some permanence to the phenomenon of virtual worlds.
Now Pixels and Policy takes a look at how education will soon have to teach understanding of virtual worlds alongside grammar and biology.
The Importance of Virtual Education
Given that virtual worlds are expected to hit nearly $4.5 billion in revenue next year – more than the GDP of Guinea – it may behoove children to learn virtual worlds skills now for future e-commerce dominance.
From a report by The Guardian:
In, say, World of Warcraft you have to do calculations for crucial
strikes and damage limitation while academic dissertations are already
being written on how skills acquired in multiplayer online games are
exactly those needed in industry as the digital revolution proceeds.
Clearly, [online games] that could engage kids in maths during their early
teens could eventually have an effect on the whole economy. Maths is
the bedrock of the digital age.
How true it is. In high school I wanted to learn computer coding, but I never grasped Algebra sufficiently to make heads or tails of it. Even managing HTML for this blog required a bit of learning on my part. I've met kids no older than 14, though, who are in advanced trigonometry and algebra courses.
These are going to be the kids who can adapt to the online world. These kids are the future ridiculously wealthy content creators. As we reported last week, future-minded schools that currently fail to register on the academic radars of teens are adopting innovative Second Life curricula, and even devoting entire course programs to Second Life and virtual worlds.
As virtual technology becomes more accessible across the socio-economic spectrum, I have no doubt the physical walls of schools will fall to virtual learning centers like those proposed for Kenyan students too poor to travel to school. This will not only increase the emphasis on a virtual world-savvy education, but will serve to democratize education across the currently unbridgeable poor-rich divide.
The inner-city school could well fade away, a bad nightmare from the pre-virtual era.
As we've said and as Mr. Keegan boldly states, the model of education is changing with the times:
It is possible we are not far away from a revolution in which formal
education will give way more and more to the attractions of internet learning including virtual worlds. Something is clearly happening.
We can hope the evolution to a math-savvy culture, where learning and play are seamless and where even the poorest can access a top-tier school through the virutal world, is a change not far in the future.