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Although care should be taken on which tool to use as some apps of virtual worlds environments may not be suitable for secondary school students, I believe that being introduced to a virtual world environment would enthusiast and motivate students. A tool which can be used is WhyVille.
WhyVille is a virtual town, which can be visited simultaneously by multiple students from all over the globe at the same time, giving them the possibility to learn, investigate and develop new things while having great fun! In this town, there are multiple destinations one can visit containing different games and action. In singing up every student need to create their own avatar setting up their physical look and clothing. Every avatar is given the possibility to develop his/her own house and again one can adorn it to his/her likings. Here, they can invite their friends and a discussion or a lesson delivery can be done here. The more educational activities you take part in, the more earnings one attain. These salaries can then be tracked and controlled by every avatar and can be used to buy from the “Bazaar”.
There are various educational games about different subjects such as Science subjects and more. They are quite demanding, hence students need to brainstorm and critically think to win the game. Students can even write articles and post them in this virtual world along with other voting decisions on general issues that they might dis/agree. It has a language filter however; other safety tools can also be used.
In the video below, one can get a better idea of this virtual world, through a virtual tour:
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