Advertisement

Virtual Worlds for Young People in a Program Context: Lessons from Four Case Studies

  • Marina Umaschi Bers
  • Laura Beals
  • Clement Chau
  • Keiko Satoh
  • Nauman Khan
Chapter

Abstract

This chapter introduces some of the challenges and opportunities involved in designing, implementing, and evaluating psychoeducational intervention programs that use virtual worlds specifically designed for children. The research is based on over a decade of conducting several studies with different kinds of young people and contexts. The chapter will first present the technology, the Zora three-dimensional (3D) multiuser virtual environment, and the theoretical framework upon which it was designed. Latter it discussed four different case studies in which Zora was used: with a diverse group of children in a multicultural summer camp, with incoming freshman at a northeastern university, with transplant patients at Children’s Hospital Boston, and with children in a network of after school programs all around the world. By presenting each of these case studies, the chapter will focus on eight considerations to take into account when designing and implementing programs that use virtual worlds specifically aimed for children’s development and education: (1) curriculum, (2) mentoring model, (3) diversity, (4) project scale, (5) type of contact with participants, (6) type of assessment and evaluation, (7) access environment, and (8) institutional context of usage.

Keywords

Virtual World Institutional Context Virtual Community Summer Camp Clubhouse Member 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgments

We thank our collaborators at Children Hospital Boston and The Intel Computer Clubhouse Network, as well as at Academic Technologies, Tufts University. Finally, we thank the National Science Foundation for support of this research through an NSF Career grant #IIS-0447166 and the Tisch College of Public Service and Citizenship for a Faculty Fellowship. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

References

  1. Association of Virtual Worlds (2008, August). The blue book: A consumer guide to virtual worlds.Google Scholar
  2. Barab, S. A., Thomas, M., Dodge, T., Carteaux, R., & Tuzun, H. (2005). Making learning fun: Quest Atlantis, a game without guns. ETR&D, 53(1), 86–107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barnes, B. (2007). Disney acquires web site for children [Electronic Version]. The New York Times. Retrieved August 2, 2007 from http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/02/business/02disney.html?_r=1&oref=slogin.
  4. Barron, B. (2004). Learning ecologies for technological fluency: Gender and experience differences. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 31(1), 1–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Beals, L., & Bers, M.U. (2009). A developmental lens for designing virtual worlds for children and youth. The International Journal of Learning and Media, 1(1), 51–65. http://</Devtech/publications/Beals–Developmental_Lens_for_Virtual_Communities.pdf>Google Scholar
  6. Bers, M. U. (2001). Identity construction environments: Developing personal and moral values through the design of a virtual city. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 10(4), 365–415.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bers, M. U. (2006). The role of new technologies to foster positive youth development. Applied Developmental Science, 10(4), 200–219.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bers, M. U. (2007). Positive technological development: Working with computers, children, and the internet. MassPsych, 51(1), 5–7.Google Scholar
  9. Bers, M. U. (2008a). Civic identities, online technologies: From designing civic curriculum to supporting civic experiences. Civic life online: Learning how digital media can engage youth. In W. L. Bennett (Ed.), The john d. And catherine t. Macarthur foundations series on digital media and learning (pp. 139–160). Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
  10. Bers, M. U. (2008b). Virtual worlds as digital playgrounds. EDUCAUSE Review, 43(5), 80–81.Google Scholar
  11. Bers, M. U. (2008c). Blocks to robots: Learning with technology in the early childhood classroom. New York: Teachers College Press.Google Scholar
  12. Bers, M. U., & Chau, C. (2006). Fostering civic engagement by building a virtual city. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 11, 3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Bers, M. U., Chau, C., Satoh, K., & Beals, L. (2007). Virtual communities of care: Online peer networks with post-organ transplant youth. Proceedings of the 2007 Computer Supported Collaborative Learning Conference, New Brunswick, NJ.Google Scholar
  14. Bers, M. U., Gonzalez-Heydrich, J., & DeMaso, D. (2001b). Identity construction environments: Supporting a virtual therapeutic community of pediatric patients undergoing dialysis. Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human factors in Computing Systems, Seattle, Washington.Google Scholar
  15. Bers, M. U., Gonzalez-Heydrich, G., & DeMaso, D. (2003). Use of a computer-based application in a pediatric hemodialysis unit: A pilot study. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 42(4), 493–496.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Bers, M. U., Gonzalez-Heydrich, G., Raches, D., & DeMaso, D. (2001a). Zora: A pilot virtual community in the pediatric dialysis unit. In V. L. Patel, R. Rogers & R. Haux (Eds.), Studies in health technology and informatics (Vol. 84, pp. 800–804). Amsterdam: IOS Press.Google Scholar
  17. Bruckman, A. (1996). Moose crossing: Creating a learning culture. Paper presented at the Proceedings of the 1996 international conference on Learning sciences.Google Scholar
  18. Calvino, I. (1972). Invisible cities. New York: Harcourt Brace.Google Scholar
  19. Chau, C., & Bers, M. U. (2007). Using a 3d virtual environment to foster college-community connections, 2007 American Educational Researcher Association Annual Conference. Chicago, IL.Google Scholar
  20. Chazan, B. (1985). Models of moral education: Analyzing alternative theories. New York: Teachers College Press, Columbia University.Google Scholar
  21. Dede, C., Ketelhut, D. J., Clarke, J., Nelson, B., & Bowman, C. (2005). Students’ motivation and learning of science in a multi-user virtual environment. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association Conference.Google Scholar
  22. Dede, C., Nelson, B., Ketelhut, D. J., Clarke, J., & Bowman, C. (2004). Design-based research strategies for studying situated learning in a multi-user virtual environment. Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on Learning sciences, Santa Monica, CaliforniaGoogle Scholar
  23. Elliott, J., & Bruckman, A. (2002). No magic bullet: 3d video games in education. Proceedings of the 2002 International Conference of the Learning Sciences. Seattle, Washington.Google Scholar
  24. Koschmann, T., & Kolodner, J. L. (1997). Technology and educational reform. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 6(4), 397–400. http://www.jstor.org/stable/1466778.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Lave, J., & Wenger., E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Lenhart, A., Madden, M., Macgill, A. R., & Smith, A. (2007). Teens and social media. Pew Internet & American Life Project.Google Scholar
  27. Nelson, B., Ketelhut, D. J., Clarke, J., Bowman, C., & Dede, C. (2005). Design-based research strategies for developing a scientific inquiry curriculum in a multi-user virtual environment. Educational Technology, 45(1), 21–27.Google Scholar
  28. Ondrejka, C. R. (2004). Escaping the gilded cage: User created content and building the metaverse. Proceedings of the State of Play, Los Angeles, CA.Google Scholar
  29. Papert, S. (1980). Mindstorms: Children, computers, and powerful ideas. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  30. Papert, S. (1987). Microworlds: Transforming education. Norwood, NJ, USA: Ablex Publishing Corp.Google Scholar
  31. Preece, J. (2000) Online Communities: Designing Usability, Supporting Sociability. Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons.Google Scholar
  32. Preece, J. (2001). Online communities: Usability, sociability, theory and methods. In R. Earnshaw, R. Guedj, A. van Dam, & T. Vince (Eds.), Frontiers of human-centred computing, online communities and virtual environments (pp. 263–277). Springer Verlag: Amsterdam.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Prescott, L. (2007). Virtual worlds ranking—Runescape #1: Hitscape.Google Scholar
  34. Raths, L. E., Harmin, M., & Simon, S. B. (1978). Values and teaching: Working with values in the classroom. Columbus, OH: Charles E. Merrill Publishing Co.Google Scholar
  35. Resnick, M., Bruckman, A., & Martin, F. (1996, September/October). Pianos not stereos: Creating computational construction kits. Interactions, 3(5), 40–50.Google Scholar
  36. Satoh, K., Beals, L., Chau, C., & Bers, M. (2007). Virtual community of learning and care at Children’s Hospital, Boston. In the symposium developmental technologies: Positive uses of technology for youth learning and development, Society of Research in Child Development Conference. Boston, MA.Google Scholar
  37. Satoh, K., Blume, E. D., DeMaso, D. R., Gonzalez-Heydrich, J. M., & Bers, M. (2008). A virtual community for post-transplant pediatric patients, 28th Annual Meeting and Scientific Sessions of the International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation. Boston, Massachusetts.Google Scholar
  38. Satoh, K., Mc Vey, M., Grogan, D., & Bers, M. (2006). Zora: Implementing virtual communities of learning and care. Paper presented at the New Media Consortium (NMC)’s Regional Conference.Google Scholar
  39. Shore, R. (2008). The power of pow! Wham! Children, digital media, and our nation’s future: Three challenges for the coming decade. New York: The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop.Google Scholar
  40. Tiwari, N. (2007). Webkinz: I fell in love with a cyber alley cat. CNET News.com.Google Scholar
  41. Williamson, D. A. (2008). Kids and teens: Virtual worlds open new universe. Retrieved August 29, 2008, from http://www.emarketer.com/Report.aspx?code=emarketer_2000437&src=report_summary_reportsell

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marina Umaschi Bers
    • 1
  • Laura Beals
    • 1
  • Clement Chau
    • 1
  • Keiko Satoh
    • 1
  • Nauman Khan
    • 1
  1. 1.Developmental Technologies Research Group, Eliot Pearson Department of Child DevelopmentTufts UniversityMedfordUSA

Personalised recommendations