A Closer Look at Public Schools and the Rise of Virtual Learning Technology

In light of the great job done by public university entrants in the Army Federal Virtual Worlds Challenge, it's time to take a fresh look at just how universities around the world are adding virtual world literacy to their core curriculum. I've made it a point to report on individual schools and organizations with innovative new approaches to digital education and virtual world understanding, but there is relatively little out there about the overall effect of virtual education initiatives on education as a whole.

By creating novel ways of looking at old disciplines or by facilitating low-cost, long-distance education in virtual environments, classrooms with major virtual world components are slowly turning  calcified education system into a highly flexible, modern machine.

I've talked in the past about how schools that adopt virtual worlds as major parts of the learning process can – and have – upended established elite universities. Now let's take a look some new academic research that argues interactive virtual world education will pay dividends to students as well as institutions.

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Virtual Education Advocates Find Support for Innovation Across Continents and Economic Landscapes

Virtual worlds are considered
a pleasure of the developed world. After all, they require broadband
internet connections, powerful computers, and the luxury of free time. One
education company is working to change that by bringing stripped-down
mobile classrooms to the rural backroads of Latin America.

ClaseMovil hopes to do in Latin America what many forward-thinking distance-learning companies are doing in the run-down inner cities of the United States. By lowering costs and increasing access to education through virtual classrooms and telecommuting teachers, virtual classrooms offer the promise of quality learning regardless of geographic or economic handicap.

By taking its cue from initiatives already underway in America, Clasemovil showcases a very interesting trend – across land masses and ideologies, languages and cultures, virtual education is gaining steam.

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Stanford Study: Avatars Have a Big Impact on Our Real-World Decisions (Pt. 1 of 2)

One of the most interesting areas of study in virtual worlds has to do not with what we bring into the environment, but how an entirely virtual ecosystem changes the real-world player. Stanford University has been doing some very interesting research on the subject, and one of their most recent findings has the mainstream media paying attention.

According to research recently released by the Stanford University Virtual Human Interaction Lab, one of the leading virtual world research facilities in the country, players can be heavily influenced by what their avatar is doing.

Today we look at the first in a two-part breakdown of Stanford's most recent study. Today's article focuses on the potential business implications of the VHIL's findings. Saturday we'll take a look at what these findings tell us about the sociology and psychology of gamers and their avatars.

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Colorado University Rolls Out Doctorates in Social Media

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   Colorado Tech's beautiful virtual campus

Pixels and Policy was one of the first to touch on St. Paul College's plan to make virtual world studies into a degree program.

We predicted that colleges would begin adopting virtual worlds programs over the next few years. Turns out things are moving faster than we thought.

Now Colorado is in on the fun, becoming one of the first universities in America to offer a PhD in social media and virtual worlds. Pixels and Policy investigates just what it takes to become a Doctor of Facebook.

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Virtual Schools Could Close the Inner-City Achievement Gap

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The Achievement Gap, Face-to-Face

Politicians love to talk about the "Achievement Gap" in the public school system. What's apparent is that poor students are testing worse than wealthier students, and black kids are scraping the bottom in math and reading while white kids score in the middle of the pack.

Are these poor and minority students incapable of understanding the same material their wealthier, whiter friends study? Pixels and Policy analyzes the problem of environment, and how virtual schooling could put an end to the "Achievement Gap."

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The Guardian: With Virtual Worlds, Kids are Learning Even During Playtime

Nmc2 Pixels and Policy has been a consistent advocate of bringing virtual worlds and digital classrooms to the forefront of our education system.

Along with many other great websites, we've helped catalogue the forward-thinking colleges turning virtual literacy into degree programs and looked at the potential impact of virtual classrooms in poor Latin American communities.

Now Britain's Guardian newspaper has turned its international readership on to the growing trend of virtual worlds in education. Pixels and Policy takes a look at how virtual education is hitting the mainstream.

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What It Means to Have a College Degree in “Virtual Worlds”

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  Metaverse Professor Dick Riedl, , Appalachian State

We've talked about how over 250 American colleges are now offering degrees in game programming, content creation, and virtual worlds.

Courses in game art and virtual development fill up as quick as Faculty add them to the roster.

But more than a few of our readers commented and e-mailed with the same question: What exactly does having a degree in virtual worlds MEAN?

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Virtual Paramedic Training Saves Real Lives

Stgeorges-paramedic-500px For the nearly 3 million people who call Chicago home, speeding ambulances and quick-thinking paramedics are nothing new.

But the next paramedic that receives an emergency call may be one of a special group: those that received crisis response training through Second Life.

Pixels and Policy takes a look at how one Chicago hospital is turning to cost-effective virtual environments to keep first responders at the peak of their skills.

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U.C. Irvine Set to Offer 4-Year Degree in Virtual Worlds

Uci Two months ago we reported on how U.C. Irvine received over $100,000 for an academic study of World of Warcraft.

Turns out the venerable California campus is planning a much more ambitious role for virtual world studies in high academia.

Pixels and Policy investigates U.C. Irvine's new four-year degree program in virtual worlds, and how Irvine's new Center for Computer Games and Virtual Worlds puts them at the forefront of synthetic sociology.

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Australian Film College Announces Advanced Degree in Virtual Worlds

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Students at Australia's Film Radio and Television school are about to join a growing international collective of schools that want to see students competitive in the Metaverse.

The alma mater of some of Australia's best-known filmmakers is offering a Graduate Certificate in Video Games and Virtual Worlds starting next year.

Pixels and Policy takes a look.

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