“So, the kids basically play video games?” We’re sometimes asked when we introduce our K-12 virtual worlds program. The answer: Of course not. While educational virtual worlds make learning fun for kids and may FEEL like a video game to them, there are several significant differences between the two.
Play vs. Create
A video game has already been created by someone else. When your child plays a video game, he simply plays according to someone else’s rules. He does not create anything and is powerless when it comes to changing the world he plays in.
But when your child learns through an educational virtual world, she gets to create that world, including its environment, her avatar, and the tools her avatar will use (such as books and notebooks). This process is incredibly creative, and also gives your child an unprecedented level of self expression.
Play vs. Learn
Another important distinction between a video game and an educational virtual world is the educational value. A game is just a game, and that’s fine. But an educational virtual world teaches children to create, to be innovators, to lead rather than to follow. The focus is on teaching through a fun, engaging platform – not on playing.
Passive vs. Active
One of our main objections to traditional schooling is that students are expected to be passive. We believe the only way our bright children will be truly ready to take a leading role in society when they grow up is if they learn at a young age to be leaders, to be active, to THINK, rather then to follow.
In this respect, a video game is very different than an evolving educational virtual world, because it is passive rather than active. The child does not create anything – he just plays.