Monday, June 19, 2017

Virtual Learning = Simulations?

Virtual Learning = Simulations? - Mon., June 19, 2017

Years ago when I was a young teacher I wanted my 6th grade students to get the "feel" and try to truly understand the concept of power and resources.  We divided the physical classroom up into regions and each region had specific resources.  One had the door, another had the water fountain, another had the pencil sharpener, another had the dictionaries, one had the calculators, etc.  Throughout the day we did regular class activities, and it wasn't long before the students in one "region" figured out they didn't have the resources they needed.  It's hard to describe here, but my students got it.  They got an early, primitive lesson that really stuck with them as we went through the year.   I learned then that if I wanted them to get big abstract concepts, I had to make it real.

So it's 2017, how do we make it "real" if it's virtual?  It's not REALLY real, but yet students think differently than we do now.  Our school uses a program called "Dreambox" which is game-based learning for Math and the students have excelled with it.

I think virtual learning is for classrooms what TV was in the 80's.  A way to bring the real world into the house, the classroom, the phone, the device of the students.  Learning can be anywhere, anytime, so virtual, game-based play must be developed and available for all students everywhere and not at a huge cost.

1 comment:

  1. Simulations, whether in the real or virtual worlds, can be very powerful. I can remember doing a simulation with 5th graders. We were discussing the Quartering Act and how colonists were expected to provide for soldiers. The students seem to understand the concept but their discussion was of a benign nature.

    The day after we discussed it, the 5th grade teacher and I ran a simulation on the Quartering Act. Staff members walked into the classroom and sat in students' seats, they rummaged around in their desks and even used the netbooks sitting on the desks. Students were displaced and unsure of what they were supposed to do.

    At the end of the day, we asked students to reflect on what they had experienced. This time, they were passionate and even outraged at what they felt was a violation of their space. I'm reasonably certain they won't forget what the Quartering Act was all about...

    Students may not have the ability to experience first hand what they learn but if educators can arrange physical or virtual simulations, students get a better sense of those concepts and will remember long after the unit is done.