I watched some interesting lectures in the Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education event Second Life this evening.  I especially enjoyed the Keynote given by Peggy Sheehy called As The WORLDz Turn. It was about the potential for change that virtual worlds create.

In her talk, she dinged Linden Labs a bit for removing TeenSL and for removing the educational discounts.

The most exciting point in her discussion was her depiction of a “Metaissance,” and her encouragement to embrace the virtual worlds that are out there.

She talked about OpenSim, an open source alternative to Second Life that can still interact with the SL interface/client.  She strongly supported that are openly available to all.  At the same time, she warned against the segregation of one virtual world from another, and suggested that we should be working toward a “hypergrid,” where virtual worlds can be brought together into and visited interchangable.  She discussed other alternatives to Second Life, such as World of Warcraft, Lord of the Rings Online, Lego Universe, and how these could potentially be used in education.

There were two phrases that she used that really jumped out at me:

No Avatar Left Behind:  This goes along with the hypergrid.  If we can establish a common baseline for virtual worlds, similar to the common baseline used in the World Wide Web, then we could benefit so much more from the potential they provide.

Failure is a necessary step toward success: yes Yes YES YES!  Someone gets it.  It’s always frustrating how people (even educators) don’t see that mistakes are acceptable IF we learn from them, and that failure and frustration can be fantastic learning tools.

I only wish everyone could see the importance of these concepts in education.  One would think that the science of education and educational design would be further along and embraced by others.  We are 10 years into the 21st century, and we have the potential to create some really outstanding training environments for our learners.  We just have to be willing to embrace it.

If there is anyone that gets why games matter, I think it is Peggy Sheehy.  You can read more about her here.