#3 5 Minute Meals for ICT
November 15, 2008 § Leave a comment
Topic or Tool: Smallworlds
What does it cost? FREE. SmallWorlds is a 3D virtual world (similar to Second Life and Lively) but it runs inside your web browser – no software to install. Targeted at anyone aged 13 years and above, Smallworld creators Outsmart believe that,
‘the combination of social interaction, self expression, media consumption and casual gaming features of SmallWorlds means there’s something in there for everyone, and the ease of use and general accessibility of the product means that even novice users can have a satisfying experience.’
Once you have designed your avatar, you are dropped into your virtual home with or without your virtual pet, you teleport into a multilingual international virtual world. Importantly for educators, Smallworlds is Moderated. Moderators and helpers are real easy to spot, they all have a saintly (some might say unearthly?) glow as they travel about in-world. They also wear a snappy looking blue cape with an “M” or “H” on the back just in case you miss the glow.
Whats more Smallworlds a mash-up or is mashable! ‘Mashable’ means you are able to mash together different web applications. A more professional definition can be found in the Horizon Report 2008
‘A mashup is a web application that combines data from more than one source via a single, unified tool.’
Same difference. For example you can play selected radio stations through your ghetto blaster, you can hang your pictures/artwork stored on photo sharing site flickr on your walls. You can take part in game tournaments such as chess and pool and much more. Smallworlds is a real interactive experience.
How it could be used for teaching?
At this moment in time, I have used Smallworldsto introduce students to social media. Once logged in, there is an enormous amount for them to do, people to meet and etiquette to learn. The importance of personal safety, security and 21st Century safety awareness are easily reinforced through Smallworlds. Features such as room design (Design Technology) and Chat (MFL), can be easily applied in Smallworlds as students complete ‘Missions’ to help them earn credits. These credits can then be used to make purchases, an instant reward, often used to ‘pimp’ their home space.
How it could be used for learning?
More recently, I have been corresponding with the Outsmart team, discussing ways to use the many features available in Smallworld to create learning experiences. In particularly we have been looking at how Outsmart can offer staff and headstart or ‘teacher package’ and ways to use the missions to develop learning opportunities for students. For example, heading to a Maths room full of equations, with supplying the correct answers earning you credits. Or by creating rooms or great characters in history, again with questions to answer but also rooms to display photo and artwork, then entered into international competitions….. More ideas please.