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Education in Virtual Worlds

Edutopia Kitely

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A shop in Edutopia

Kitely is a 3D world that needs donations, it runs with the money people pay monthly for their plots. There are lots of private plots where only registered people can enter, that is why it is so popular with primary and secondary schools, but also with private schools like the one I am going to tell you about. 

Today I am going to talk about a beautiful island called Edutopia whose owner, Barbara McQueen, is known as "The Games Queen" amongst her friends and neighbours in Second Life.

 This impressive teacher has taught many years in 3D worlds, she has also been experimenting with new pedagogy methods using the latest technologies around. Teaching in 3Dworlds. 

Barbara has a lovely house in Second Life, as well as several teaching places, but her island in Kitely is really out of another world.

I was introduced to Kitely by Barbara not long ago, then she had just started building her island. We went on a tour some days ago. My first impression when I saw the place was: "it is a paradise for teachers" during the tour I learned that the island, at the moment, consists of a town with many high buildings, schools, playground, a place to build in 3D, a park, a lake, a huge shopping mall, small shops, mountains with camping trailers, castles, a cave, a dungeon and lots of idyllic places. It takes at least 30 minutes to get an overview of the whole sim. If you go into one of her boutiques, then it will take longer. I got some clothing for my avatar there as it was for free and you normally have to pay for anything you get on Kitely. But back to the sim, there is even more to come like a sky platform, a deserted island, an airport and other scenes.

Barbara is building all she needs to teach English as a foreign language to university students as well as to any adult too busy to take part in regular classes. That is why Barbara has students from all over the world. SLESL

Apart from having a wonderful sim to teach, Barbara has her personal teaching methods including many language games like board games, interactive games, role play, mystery, crimes etc. 

At the end of the tour I noticed that my first impression had been an underestimation of the size of the island, of the activities you can create there and of the building skills  Barbara has already developed. It is not a paradise for teachers, it is going to become the teaching island per excellence!

I think that a whole university can use the sim in so many different ways at the same time, that it would be a shame to say the island is perfect for language teaching, no, much more the island is prefect for long distance conferences in any subject, to make team homework in any subject, to teach some architecture, to simulate car accidents and teach lawyers, to teach history, to simulate a fire and teach safety and to invite any partner school in another country to do language tandems together. You can use the sim non-stop for different activities, you name it.

I would use the sim for one of Barbara's favourite activities: Make machinima with students, especially when the different time epochs she is planning to create in different regions are ready. Filming crime stories or thrillers in 3D worlds is one of those ideas she has developed over the years.

Edutopia is still being built by its owner and it is a pleasure to observe the process almost from scratch. I have learned that there is still a lot to learn from this woman.

Once more Barbara has been an inspiration to me, this time she has hopefully been an inspiration to many teachers reading this article worldwide.


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