nextREALITY Value Proposition

Core purpose

nextREALITY helps teachers to use the powerful, immersive environments of virtual worlds for effective teaching. It addresses the problem that teachers easily lose control over student’s activities as soon as the students enter the virtual environment.

Typical questions for the teachers are:

  • Do the students work on their assigned tasks? Do they behave appropriately?
  • Does somebody need help?
  • How did the students apply their skills and what did they learn?

nextREALITY provides a “teacher control center” that presents information about ongoing activities in real-time. Depending on the type of activity, the presented information includes student’s chat, movements, clicks on objects, feedback given by in-world actors, etc. A powerful mechanism for rule-definition allows the teacher to finetune what information is collected and presented, e.g.:

  • Get a notification if a student uses words form the pre-defined list of forbidden words.
  • Get a notification if no student has clicked on the first hint after 20 minutes (which obviously means that the students need help).
  • Update the value for a student’s reading competency if the student has clicked on a hint and immediately proceeded to the next one (which is a strong indicator, that s/he has understood the first hint).

The nextREALITY-package includes 2 fully worked-out group-quests in the virtual city of Chatterdale. These examples are ready-to-use and include instructions about how to set up and run such a quest. The quests are designed for K12 students who study English as a foreign language. The addressed competencies are taken from the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages and focus on reading, listening and speaking skills around A2/B1.

Trends

  • Game-based learning is a huge trend in education. Using virtual worlds fits into today’s student’s experiences and interests.
  • Inter-school cooperation: Using virtual worlds encourages meeting people that are not currently at the same geographical location. Ideally students would work in mixed teams with members of different schools/countries and would meet further people (non-playing characters) in-world. In such a setting using English as the common means of communication becomes most natural – no matter what the actual learning content is about.

Possible approaches to teaching and assessment

nextREALITY is a general purpose tool which is based on real-time rule-based analysis of a logfile. Therefore it is open to all common approaches of virtual world’s teaching (quests, project work, mini-games, fieldtrips, …) and assessments (teacher assessment, quizzes, peer-feedback, implicit competency deductions, …)

Environment

  • The virtual environment for our 2 sample-quests is an OpenSim server. However, any other envrionment that allow access to logfiles are possible.
  • The “teacher control center” runs on any Windows PC.

People and roles

  • Teachers define the activity and rules for collecting and presenting the information.
  • Students enjoy the possibility to use a virtual world in class.
  • Peers can join the virtual experience.
  • External experts / teachers are a special added value (e.g. as native speakers playing non-playing characters).

Activities

Activities would typically include

  • problem solving
  • collaboration
  • using English or another second language: reading, text-chatting, talking
  • experiencing environments and objects in the virtual worlds
  • experimental learning
  • learning by doing

Resources

  • Devices for students to access the virtual world
  • Windows computer for the “teacher control center”
  • Internet
  • Appropriate virtual environment (Chatterdale, the ancient Rome, …)

The ready-made software bundle for this NEXT-TELL package will be accessible here in Q3 2014.