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Learning from virtual world simulations: a policy application

Learning from virtual world simulations: a policy application

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Learning from virtual world simulations: a policy application

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  1. Learning from virtual world simulations: a policy application Martha García-Murillo Joe Rubleske Presentation for the 11th Sloan-C November 17-19, 2005 Orlando, FL

  2. Problem • Work, education and leisure have been profoundly affected by computer and communication technologies • Technologies for entertainment purposes can be more captivating than traditional classrooms and on-line education • Computer games are under-utilized for instruction

  3. Games as pedagogical tools • Computer games allow students to see and react to the consequences of their (and their peers’) decisions (Franklin, 2003) • Computer games can diminish the apathy and boredom that affects many students (Subramanian, 1999) • Computer games can help instructors address differences in learning styles (Heffler, 2001; De Vita 2001)

  4. Virtual Worlds for education • Virtual worlds: • Provide a shared, experientially rich and graphically appealing space • Provide opportunities for collaboration and interpersonal communication among the participants (Volery, 2001) • Contribute to the student’s educational experience by facilitating interaction with: • The technology on which the game is based; • The instructional material; • The instructor; and • Fellow students/peers (Bergin, 2004)

  5. VW and learning principles • Virtual worlds allow two types of experience: • The learning that takes place as a result of being in a virtual world • The process of learning that happens as a result of being an active participant

  6. Learning from a VW • Multimodal learning process where the students learn from all the other elements in the virtual world • Digital identities (avatars) allow the students to have experiences as different characters

  7. Experiential learning • Active Learning Principle: Students are able to apply contents • Semiotic Domain Principle: there is a process of learning associated with the rules of behavior and the new context • Psychosocial Moratorium Principle: Students can take risks without being penalized • Probing Principle: Participants can explore multiple strategies and learn from the immediate feedback from their virtual peers • Discovery Principle: They can experiment and make new discoveries from which they can learn more content • Affinity principle: Students learn from interactions with their peers, they form affinity groups and close ties that happen from having shared experiences • Transfer principle: Mistakes that they made can be avoided and they can apply only those that resulted in successful outcomes in the real world

  8. 5. Information to Influence Policy 4. Economic/Interest Groups Theory 3. Capture Political Scientists 2. Capture Marxist 1. Public Interest Simulation: Learning objectives • Policy concepts

  9. Simulation: Bills to be debated • SPY ACT (Securely Protect Yourself Against Cyber Trespass Act) • Digital Media Consumers’ Rights (DMCR) Bill • Broadband Regulation and Modernization (BRM) Bill

  10. Simulation: The Virtual World

  11. Simulation: The lobbying room

  12. Simulation: Roles • The Governor of the state of New York; • The Vice President of AOL/Time Warner; • The Director of the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA); • The Vice President of AT&T; • The Director of the New York Association of Cities and Towns (NYACT); • The Director of the Business Software Alliance (BSA); • The Director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF); • The Chancellor of the State University of New York (SUNY); • The Director of the American Marketing Association (AMA); • The Director of the American Library Association (ALA); • The Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Higher Education; and • A United States Senator from the state of New York.

  13. Challenges • Most students did not take the time to conduct basic research on their roles • Knowing where one’s role initially stands on the bills helps students assume their roles more faithfully and be less inclined to play and vote according to personal preferences • The need for a “level playing field”

  14. Simulation: the game • Students are given ~45 minutes to lobby fellow players and convince them to support (or oppose) the bill or bills for which the player has the most intense preference • Once time expires for the discussion the players convene as a group to vote • Ties can be handled in at least two ways • Process repeats until all bills have been voted on

  15. Test Simulation • Participants reported few problems related to: • Logging into Habbo Hotel • Finding the room • Moving their avatars • Communicating with one another, etc. • Recommendations and changes • Exploit the virtual space • Give players more time to read the instructions • Encourage players to stay in the Logrolling Room during the lobbying period

  16. Results

  17. Results • Simulation took place over three nights with nine players (and nine roles) • Instructions generally weren’t read despite four days’ notice • There were very few technical problems • Students sometimes “slipped” out of roles • SPY ACT vote was based on the perceived inadequacies of the bill • Rhetoric/debate played large role in voting outcomes, more so than logrolling

  18. Post simulation survey Respondents: • “I enjoyed playing the role and trying to convince others in the same manner the person in my role would.” • “[I liked] that we were each given a persona to represent. It enabled us to debate without offending anyone since we were all hidden behind a mask.”

  19. The technology • Respondents mentioned disliking various aspects of the virtual world than the core game concepts themselves • Some problems they voiced were: • Shout-talk-whisper feature • Screen size • Inability to go back and see what others said (instead of the text scrolling off the screen)

  20. The lobbying techniques used • Three respondents reported using rhetorical means, three tried to exchange votes, and one did both • Respondents: “I basically tried to give a good argument and did a little bit of research in order to back up my beliefs.” “I used points to appeal to their self interest, logic or fear.” “One huge strategy was negotiating on the next day’s bill” “I promised another person a vote on the issues I was not strong about.”

  21. The lobbying techniques • Four respondents believed that negotiating votes worked to some extent • Responses: • “Appealing to self interest seemed to be the only strategy that had any effect.” • Bargaining “definitely” worked • “I think providing evidence… was the best way to persuade someone. If you did not have your facts straight, it showed.” • “I can’t really say how many folks I convinced based on my arguments.”

  22. The virtual world: What was learned? • Some responses were tactical • “…have a game plan going into it.” • “It is critical to speak with words that catch attention.” • Some responses were critical • E.g., the interface made communication difficult; virtual worlds “take out that essential personal feeling” • Some responses were self-reflective • “It takes more effort to contribute in a virtual world.” • “I could give people a hard time in a virtual world and make them feel bad, but I definitely couldn’t do that in real life.”

  23. Conclusions • Learning outcomes: Some lobbying strategies identified in the literature were used and the students came up with some others • It is crucial to the success that students play their roles • The simulation will be more rewarding for students and instructors if ample and roughly equal attention is paid to each main part of the simulation (bills, roles and the virtual world) • There is a trade-off between the amount of time an instructor can devote to the simulation and the depth and/or breadth of the simulation experience (though a short or “small” simulation can still be rewarding) • Some recommendations: • Use a virtual world with a shallow learning curve • Make sure the room or space is password-protected or hidden • Students will likely prefer to conduct the simulation in manageable blocks of time over multiple nights