Virtual Worlds and Education

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This step involves the injection of game elements into your classroom/teaching. Game elements such as; points, achievements rewards, badges, levels, virtual worlds, etc.. 

The integration of these game elements will take engagement, motivation, and educational outcomes to an even higher level.

 

Gamification Elements


Points

Points are basic elements of a multitude of games and gamified applications. They are typically rewarded for the successful accomplishment of specified activities within the gamified environment, and they serve to numerically represent a player’s progress.

Various kinds of points can be differentiated between, e.g., experience points, redeemable points, or reputation points, as can the different purposes that points serve. One of the most important purposes of points is to provide feedback. Points allow the players’ in-game behavior to be measured, and they serve as continuous and immediate feedback and as a reward.

Badges

Badges are defined as visual representations of achievements and can be earned and collected within the gamification environment. They confirm the players’ achievements, symbolize their merits, and visibly show their accomplishment of levels or goals. 

Earning a badge can be dependent on a specific number of points or particular activities within the game. Badges have many functions, serving as goals if the prerequisites for winning them are known to the player, or as virtual status symbols.

In the same way as points, badges also provide feedback, in that they indicate how the players have performed. Badges can influence players’ behavior, leading them to select certain routes and challenges to earn badges that are associated with them. Additionally, as badges symbolize one’s membership in a group of those who own this particular badge, they also can exert social influences on players and co-players, particularly if they are rare or hard to earn.

Leaderboards

Leaderboards rank players according to their relative success, measuring them against a certain success criterion. As such, leaderboards can help determine who performs best in a certain activity and are thus competitive indicators of progress that relate the player’s performance to the performance of others.

However, the motivational potential of leaderboards is mixed. Werbach and Hunter regard them as effective motivators if there are only a few points left to the next level or position, but as demotivators, if players find themselves at the bottom end of the leaderboard.

Competition caused by leaderboards can create social pressure to increase the player’s level of engagement and can consequently have a constructive effect on participation and learning. However, these positive effects of competition are more likely if the respective competitors are approximately at the same performance level.

 

Performance Graphs

Performance graphs, which are often used in simulation or strategy games, provide information about the players’ performance compared to their preceding performance during a game. Thus, in contrast to leaderboards, performance graphs do not compare the player’s performance to other players, but instead, evaluate the player’s performance over time.

Unlike the social reference standard of leaderboards, performance graphs are based on an individual reference standard. By graphically displaying the player’s performance over a fixed period, they focus on improvements. Motivation theory postulates that this fosters mastery orientation, which is particularly beneficial to learning.


Meaningful Stories

Meaningful stories are game design elements that do not relate to the player’s performance. The narrative context in which a gamified application can be embedded contextualizes activities and characters in the game and gives them meaning beyond the mere quest for points and achievements. 

A story can be communicated by a game’s title (e.g., Space Invaders) or by complex storylines typical of contemporary role-playing video games (e.g., The Elder Scrolls Series).

Narrative contexts can be oriented towards real, non-game contexts or act as analogies of real-world settings. The latter can enrich boring, barely stimulating contexts, and, consequently, inspire and motivate players particularly if the story is in line with their interests.]
As such, stories are also an important part of gamification applications, as they can alter the meaning of real-world activities by adding a narrative ‘overlay’, e.g. being hunted by zombies while going for a run.

 

Avatars

Avatars are visual representations of players within the game or gamification environment. Usually, they are chosen or even created by the player. Avatars can be designed quite simply as a mere pictogram, or they can be complexly animated three-dimensional representations.

Their main formal requirement is that they unmistakably identify the players and set them apart from other human or computer-controlled avatars. Avatars allow the players to adapt or create another identity and, in cooperative games, to become part of a community.

Teammates

Teammates, whether they are other real players or virtual non-player characters, can induce conflict, competition, or cooperation. The latter can be fostered particularly by introducing teams, i.e., by creating defined groups of players that work together towards a shared objective. Meta-analytic evidence supports that the combination of competition and collaboration in games is likely to be effective for learning.[1]


Example:

You can use points at the very beginning. For instance, give 5 points when a student enrolls. Give. Another. 5 points when they complete that day’s class/lesson. This way the student begins earning points right away to build confidence and trust. The student should be awarded points for the completion of daily activities like lessons.

They should be notified via email when they accumulate a certain of points. Which they can redeem for various types of prizes and rewards. It is also good to notify them via email each time they earn points, especially when they are halfway to earning enough points to be redeemed. This builds anticipation.  The mesolimbic pathway secretes the pleasure chemical dopamine even when we. Only anticipate a future reward, although we have not received it yet. This motivates and encourages the student the continue forward and successfully. Attain the learning outcome. And goals embedded in the game.

You can use Badges to award and encourage learning and proficiency and specific areas that complement and enhance the desired learning outcome and goal.

You can use Levels as a reward for the achievement of specific milestones which mark important points along the mapped-out road(s) to the achievement of earning outcomes and goals.

You can use Leaderboards to show students their progress and achievements in comparison to their classmates and a bit of competition to motivate and draw out their full potential.

You can use Performance graphs to show the student their progress and achievements relative to themselves as opposed to others. In a sense, they compete against their selves, their progress, and their achievements the way many of the health and sports apps do.


Storyline and Mapping Learning Outcomes “Meaningful stories

Meaningful stories are game design elements that do not relate to the player’s performance.

The narrative context in which a gamified application can be embedded contextualizes activities and characters in the game and gives them meaning beyond the mere quest for points and achievements.

A story can be communicated by a game’s title (e.g., Space Invaders) or by complex storylines typical of contemporary role-playing video games (e.g., The Elder Scrolls Series). Narrative contexts can be oriented towards real, non-game contexts or act as analogies of real-world settings. The latter can enrich boring, barely stimulating contexts, and, consequently, inspire and motivate players particularly if the story is in line with their interests. 

As such, stories are also an important part of gamification applications, as they can alter the meaning of real-world activities by adding a narrative ‘overlay’, e.g., being hunted by zombies while going for a run.

Gamification projects can benefit from storytelling features; these features can help arouse emotional connections with players. They can enhance the player experience and improve the longevity and fun factor of the gamified features.”.[2]

The storyline and contextual narratives are not a mandatory element in the gamification of education, but. It. Is highly recommended! The storyline gives the gamification of education a context and a reason for being and existence beyond just giving a reward for the learning outcome or goal. It locks the student into the gamified education on a deeper emotional level and adds to the “stickiness” of the game. It camouflages all of the learning going on and does not make the learning seem so obvious.

The storyline embeds and embellishes the learning, and the storyline can even be carried over year after year in the students, thereby giving context, motivation, and incentive to the student’s whole education between k-12. Think about the possibilities!

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[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gamification

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gamification#cite_note-82



Virtual Worlds

Another useful game element for educational success 2021 and beyond is the utilization of virtual worlds along with gamification.

A “virtual world” is a 3d computer-generated environment that simulates the physical world around us.


virtual world (also called a virtual space) is a computer-simulated environment[1] that may be populated by many users who can create a personal avatar, and simultaneously and independently explore the virtual world, participate in its activities, and communicate with others. These avatars can be textual, graphical representations, or live video avatars with auditory and touch sensations. [1]



Virtual worlds
are an important component of the “gamification of education” because just like many modern games, it transplants and immerses the player a virtual world. A world similar, yet very different than the world we live in every day. Virtual worlds allow students whose home and immediate environment is not the best in the world and is filled with many types of distractions, drama, and pressures.



The virtual world allows students with troubled homes and environments to be in a safe environment to learn, discover, explore and grow. The virtual world also allows social interaction, despite the social restrictions imposed by Covid-19. Although the social distancing and isolation resulting from Covid-19 have been easing somewhat (7/2021), unfortunately, we live in a fragile world in which anything can happen and force a return to full-time remote learning again.

Virtual worlds are an essential component of the “gamification of education”. I will use as an example, the virtual world I created, designed and built, and created called “Matrix-Five Virtual World and Arcade”.

Matrix-Five Virtual World and Arcade is so much like the world we live in that sometimes when I describe it to people ask me “is this real”? Let me try to describe it now, you may ask the same question, lol

In Matrix-Five Virtual World and Arcade, each person gets an avatar which they can design and configure to look just like them or any way they want. They navigate, function, and do things in the virtual world via their avatar.

Their avatar has various powers and abilities in the virtual world such as the ability to fly, swim underwater, and instantly teleport to any region of the virtual world!

Matrix-Five Virtual World and Arcade can be populated by many avatars (people) at the same time, and these avatars/people can be anywhere in the world. No matter where the avatar/people are from in the world, when they log in via their viewer, they will all meet in the same place (Matrix-Five Virtual World and Arcade).

Real-time Inter-action

Once logged into Matrix-Five Virtual World and Arcade they will all be ab;e to see each other, talk to each other, learn together, work together, play games together,  see and experience what the other avatars see and experience.

In Matrix-Five Virtual World and Arcade, they can enjoy via their avatar many of the things they enjoy in the world they live in. We have arcades with various games they can play in real-time. Some of the games are life-size with game boards on the ground which are played while flying/hovering above the game board.

Movie Theaters, Arcades, Rooms, Homes, Shopping Malls, etc.

Matrix-Five Virtual World and Arcades has movie theaters in which you can enter into (via your avatar) sit down, and watch a movie (or play a game) on a large screen. We have classrooms, meeting buildings/rooms, homes. meditation rooms in the sky!. We have shopping malls with stores you walk into and buy products and services in real-time, with real money without leaving the store!


Figure 1: If you have a home in Matrix-Five you will be able to be a content creator for Matrix-Five!

9-Region University Campus

We have a 9-region University Campus, which is very beautiful with many buildings and beautiful tree line landscaping. It also has a min building with a large auditorium. It has a large 3-story recreation building. In the back of the recreation building is a duck-filled lake and pool. There are also campsites with campfires, etc. The campus is surrounded by a boardwalk and the scenery is breathtaking.

The Arcades

The arcades in Matrix-Five Virtual World and Arcades can be used by teachers as a class reward for doing their work each day. As part of the teachers’ gamification of the classroom, students can be given points every day for classwork completion. Those who complete all their work each day will accumulate enough points to redeem them for a class trip to the Matrix-Five Virtual World and Arcades to play the various arcades games and virtual world games as a reward for their completed work. They can play any game in Matrix-Five Virtual World and Arcades as well as explore, read, create clubs, and so much more! This is just an example of how a virtual world and arcade can be used as a reward and incentive in a gamified learning system (VLE)!

Matrix-Five Arcade Gallery

The M5 Learning Academy

The 9-Region University Campus is home of the M5 Learning Academy in which we plan and set up and map out various learning plans with teachers, schools, school districts, educators, etc will be utilizing Matrix-Five Virtual World as part of their curriculums and educational goals.

The M5 Learning Academy furnishes all of its students with their own private dorm rooms each containing a flat-screen through which their class, lesson, quizzes, and student dashboards are delivered into their dorm room.

Each dorm room and screen are configured and customized for the student’s classes and learning. They even get their own key-code to their dorm rooms! Live classes and presentations via zoom can also be delivered to their screens, as well as leaderboards, games, books, etc.

This was just a small example of what we have in Matrix-Five Virtual World, there is so much more! The main purpose of these examples is to give you a visual example of what a virtual world is like. In the Matrix-Five Virtual World, we have many different worlds and environments which teachers can make a part of their learning environment. Virtual worlds can engage and motivate students on a deeper level, especially in conjunction with a storyline.

Virtual worlds can be integrated with the teacher’s classroom, school, or school district, giving them an extra platform for students, teachers and parents can meet and interact. Events can also be given and attended in the virtual world from home, classrooms, after-school programs, youth programs, summer programs, etc.

If you would like to take your class on a trip to the Matrix-Five Virtual World and Arcades, contact us at: contact@matrix-five.com. It is zero expense for teachers, educators, etc., and the parents only pay $5 for their child to go on the virtual trip. Schedule anytime.

If any teacher or educator would like a guided tour, contact us at: contact@matrix-five.com

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_world

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