Saturday, February 11, 2012


I found the exploration of games, simulations and virtual reality to be a fun and educational assignment. As an educator I feel these three venues of technology could be extremely useful not only as skill builders, but also as content builders that promote project based learning (Horizon Report, 2011).

I checked Channel4Learning, . This is a science site for users between the ages of 11 - 14. I checked out two of the games in this site. The first game was about fashion. The user created a player then went out to shop realizing the need for money to purchase items and also learning about the fashion industry, textiles and details of each product. I think this would be an interesting method of presenting foundation information for young people interested in fashion. This game will enables the user to experience some different aspects of the fashion industry. The second game was all about energy. The game started the same way with creating a player. I like this game much more because there was audio and literary interaction. The game tracked use of human and industrial energy, along with using various types of energy. This game does promote content building as mentioned in The Horizon 2011 K12 Edition.

The site I explored for simulation was Walking with Dinosaurs. I first played the game as a visitor. I was able to incubate a dinosaur and then create an environment and feed the dinosaur to grow into an adult. I found the game to be for very young users. I then checked the tab that has clips from videos produce by BBC.  This section of the site was very insightful. I have shown Walking with Dinosaurs to my students and it would have been an effective use of time, if I could have shown short clips and then have a discussion with my students. Also this site has new productions that I would be able to show without cost. I can see were these clips could be used to help students work of projects.

I visited three different virtual reality sites. The first site was Gaia, . I was first able to create a virtual person, which I enjoyed creating. Then there were many options to click on and investigate. I only opened a couple of the choices and the screens were very complicated to use; therefore I did not investigate this site any further. The choices were concentrated around daily issues teen might face. The second site I visited was Virtual Cell , . I really wanted to investigate this site because I am a life science high school teacher. However, after registering with this site I was not able to log on. I found the site Geology Explorer and it is made by the same designers as Virtual Cell. I found this site to be very instructional. I took a quiz at the beginning and was given goals at different sections of the scenario. At one point I logged out and then went back to the site. I was able to pick-up at the same point at which I left. I would have my students use this site for independent study. The only problem I found with the site is it did not give any feedback to the quiz or choices made when attempting to complete goals set-up in the site. In a report prepared by Strangeman and Hall, several authors reported that although they could see that the users were having fun with virtual reality, they could not find evidence of learning by the users. I cannot disagree more with the authors. I would have to believe those findings are based on the time of the research from 1992 - 2002. Technology has certainly made tremendous growth since then and content learning as been included in virtual reality.

Although I do not have the technology to explore augmented reality, I did find the videos very interesting to watch. Reading a story to young children certainly looks and with glasses with will feel very different than the traditional bedtime story. I always wonder how people come up with all of these ideas, but with the push for STEM and project learning I think the sky/space is the limit.


Johnson, L., Adams, S., and Haywood, K., (2011). The NMC Horizon Report:2011 K-12 Edition.
           Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.

Johnson, L., Smith, R., Levine, A., and Haywood, K., (2010). The 2010 Horizon Report:K-12            
          Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.
Johnson, L., Smith, R., Willis, H., Levine, A., and Haywood, K., (2011). The 2011 Horizon  
          Report. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.
Strangeman, N. & Hall, T., Virtual Reality/Simulations. National Center on Accessing the General


  1. For augmented reality projections are displayed on a screen rather than the use of glasses. All you need is software that uses the technology available online for free, a nice computer, and a camera to capture the icon that will trigger the AR event.

    Look at the games made for the movie Avatar on youtube and you can see some crazy applications.

    You observation of how dificult at times it is to execute using some of these websites is a great thing to mention. We must remember that what we are using and presenting to the student is their initial contact with materials that can be distorted by bad design and coding issues. Not only does this upset the end user but puts a bug in the mind of the student causing a stray from the path of learning. Well, or just learning how computers sometimes fail you in the schem,e of things.... not the lesson intended. [it should work,,, have you installed flash? Oh, you're on an Ipad?...type of troubleshooting nightmares]

  2. Hi Theresa,
    It is always interesting to read what another educator thinks about the weekly topics. And since I have read and commented on your blogs before I learned that you are also a high school teacher. So some of our experiences are similar!
    I have been in the field of education for over 15 years and I do agree with you that the games have come a long way since the 1990s! Initially, games were for fun, but today there is definitely a learning component to most of them. I liked your idea that games could promote project-based learning. My students are always exited when they have to work on a project of any kind – except ones that include a research paper at the end! They enjoy working with each other and sometimes I am amazed how much they learn from each other when I step back and just watch!
    I also tried the walking with Dinosaurs game and found it fun for young children, maybe grades 3-5. The students can have fun creating their dinosaur and keeping them alive while they learn about habitats, etc.
    I was also a bit “frustrated” with one of the games I tried because it was too complex (Win the White House). Although it offered excellent content reinforcement on campaigning and elections, the player would need to spend hours to master it. We are on block scheduling with 85 minute classes, and this game would take at least 2 full class periods to enjoy. Often teachers cannot afford that. We are just looking for something fun to spice up the lessons – a 20-40 minute game would be ideal!