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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University of Texas: Unattractive Avatars Promote Negative Self Images

University of Texas Austin campus at sunset-dusk - aerial view
University of Texas Austin campus at sunset-dusk – aerial view

As virtual world programs continue to expand into universities around the country, we’re getting the first taste of serious virtual world research.

A new University of Texas study reports that the appearance of an avatar might have a negative effect on the self-image of the player.

Pixels and Policy looks at recent work from the University of Texas, one of the largest virtual world education projects in the country, that may spread doubt about the utility of widespread use of virtual worlds in education.

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