The AVATAR project: “Added Value of teAching in a virTuAl woRld”

Alumni from The Danish Online Masters Program in ICT and Learning (MIL) and one of the participants in my first research cycle in SL back in 2007, Inger-Marie F. Christensen from Southern University of Denmark (SDU), is currently involved in an interesting project called AVATAR “Added Value of teAching in a virTuAl woRld”.

The project runs for two years (December 2009 – November 2011), is co-financed by the European Commission under the Lifelong Learning Sub-Programme Comenius, and involves partners from Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark, Italy, Spain and the UK.

AVATAR is inspired by the lack of ICT use in schools throughout Europe despite the possible educational benefits and social learning opportunities they promote, and the project’s primary aim is to enhance the quality of teaching and education in secondary schools.

So far a six-month research phase has been completed based on desktop research, online questionnaires, video interviews, and case studies. The next phase of the project will be to design, build and develop training contents, activities and virtual labs for an upcoming AVATAR course “Teaching in a Virtual World” on an e-learning platform combined with SL and Teen Grid. This course is expected to run from mid-January 2011 and will be open for secondary school teachers and their students. The project partners will collectively select about 100 secondary school teachers from each partner country to participate in the course and test out virtual worlds in their classrooms. Towards the end of the course, each teacher trainee will design a “project work”, consisting of a lesson or course in a subject of their choice to test out on a group of students at their school.

The AVATAR course aims at enhancing the level of ICT use in education by providing teachers with new methodological and pedagogical tools. Virtual Worlds (VW) can help teachers and students learn key skills and information in different subjects, while incorporating collaborative learning and a learning-by-doing approach.

Course description and application form is expected to be published here on the project website by the end of July :-)