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


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.


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.



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.


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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

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