Get those Avatars Moving!

A 3D virtual environment is not very exciting if the avatars are sitting in virtual chairs, in a virtual classroom looking at virtual PowerPoint, instead, get the avatars up and moving around.

Moving through Data in the virtual world of ProtoSphere.

Here are some guidelines for encouraging interactivity in a 3D virtual space.

Encouraging Learner Movement and Activity Develop activities to encourage learners to move their avatars around the instructional space during the group activity. Learners need to move their avatars within the virtual spaces to be engaged. For example, ask students to answer a question by having avatars walk to a particular corner or location within the room. For example, tell the learners that the people who think the answer is A, go to the front right corner in the front of the room by the chalk board, those who think the answer is B, go to the left front of the room by the podium. Without planned movement, students will become bored and move their avatars while you are lecturing.

Going on a virtual field trip to a baseball diamond in the 3D world of VirtualU.

Plan a new interactive experience every 10-15 minutes. The 3D virtual world is about movement and activity. Plan to have different activities or movements approximately every 10-15 minutes to keep the learners moving within the space.

Form small groups and visit them. When students are in small group activities, stop by and visit. Walk around the virtual space and visit the teams as they are working on their individual activities to answer any questions or issues the learners may encounter during the breakout.

Use Props. Use objects to guide learners to different locations when creating groups. For example, indicate to learners that everyone in group 1 go stand next to the red flag in the front of the room. Those in group 2 stand next to the blue flag in the front of the room.

Redesign lecture materials into interactive exercises. Rather than discuss classroom management techniques, have learners role play a classroom management issue and then debrief. The active environment of 3D encourages the use or role plays and activities. Virtual worlds are a medium of involvement, the instructor needs to create exercises and activities that involve avatar activities and movement and not rely on lecture. Learners can text chat, camera control, talk, walk and even run. Instructors need to use the collaborative nature of the environment to engage the learners.

Posted in: 3D worlds, Avatar, virtual immersive environment

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Karl Kapp
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