Part of the rejoinder to Virtual Worlds

OK, so Jim Morrison at Innovate tossed my challenge back, asking me to consider writing a piece, based on my post.

I went to look at the journal, asking, why bother? Why not just write a rejoinder in my blog? Its part of my portfolio, I retain control of my IP, I can collaborate with others via comments and trackback. Is a larger broadcast forum worth anything?

I found that despite the free account that is required to read an article, Google manages to index the articles. (That’s as good as my blog.) There is also RSS of the current Journal contents, and there are discussion features for posting comments on articles.

At random I picked Thomas Chandler and Heejung An’s piece, “Using Digital Mapping Programs to Augment Student Learning in Social Studies” as my tool to explore the Journal. (This will test if the Journal handles trackback.)

I’d chosen some text midway down the article to feed to Google and then went back to read the paragraph more closely, because of the links to Google Maps:

Because they help students visualize pressing civil issues in the context of the places that are most meaningful to them, digital mapping programs can bridge this gap. By using transparent overlays, these programs can enable students to examine a far wider range of community relationships than could be accomplished by any other means. Illustrative of this point are the many ways in which students can use digital maps via free applications, such as Google Maps, to create their own representations of their communities as they see them. This can be accomplished through the insertion of digital photos, hyperlinks, or video linked to specific placemarks on a city map. Taking this concept a step further, Google’s Sketch-Up (Exhibit 1) and Street View (Exhibit 2) utilities now make it possible for users to construct three-dimensional buildings and to navigate virtually through many of America’s city streets from the perspective of a person on the sidewalk. These interactive elements not only provide meaningful information that was not available in the past but also offer opportunities for learners to identify, engage in, and even help solve community-based problems.

The amount of online data available for digital mapping projects has also increased substantially (Exhibit 3). For example, it is possible for such programs to connect to government-sponsored Web sites, such as the U.S. Census Bureau , where vast amounts of data pertaining to any given community in the United States, as well as many parts of the world, can be downloaded and examined for free.

Now, this is a solid rejoinder along the lines Gary, Theron and I previously argued to virtual worlds. Why use a virtual world when these mapping tools in the real world allow students to work on real problems in contexts that are meaningful to them using real data. Who needs make believe?

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One Response to “Part of the rejoinder to Virtual Worlds”

  1. One small step for man » Blog Archive » More on 21st Century Resume Says:

    […] One small step for man Exploring learning & technologies from outside the university’s walls « Part of the rejoinder to Virtual Worlds […]

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