Learning Problem-Solving Strategies in Virtual Worlds That Encourage People to Respect Human Rights

Learning Problem-Solving Strategies in Virtual Worlds That Encourage People to Respect Human Rights

Kara Bennett (Elder Voices Inc, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9679-0.ch011
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This chapter will discuss educational projects for learning problem-solving strategies in virtual worlds that encourage people to respect human rights as a lifelong learning experience. The discussion includes philosophical issues concerning the need to design new models for virtual learning that engage a person's own ways of thinking and interacting with the educational content. For example, the instructional design for these projects is based on adapting the think aloud and means-end analysis research methods for evaluating how learning about human rights in a virtual environment might transfer to the real-world community. The projects have been presented over the past 10 years in the virtual worlds of Second Life and the Open Sims.
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How can people choose to act in ways that respect human rights in a 21st century global society?

Whether our information is represented as images on cave walls thousands of years ago, or in contemporary 3D virtual worlds, the kind of knowledge that encourages a person to choose humanitarian values is not well understood. For example, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations in 1948 with the hope of preventing crimes against humanity that occurred during World War II. However, seventy years later dictators and terrorists continue to threaten our lives and can now communicate their plans through the internet and social media.

At the same time, information technology could create new possibilities for people to learn problem-solving strategies to explore ideas about human rights in a virtual world and discover guidelines for their expression in the real world community. This chapter will discuss the projects designed by the author and her colleagues in the virtual worlds of Second Life and the Open Sims that offer this kind of education (Bennett & Patrice, 2013; Bennett, 2017; De Leon & Bennett, (in press). The discussion will include;

  • 1.

    The philosophy and rationale for the educational content, instructional design, and research methods for evaluating the virtual learning experience.

  • 2.

    Descriptions of example projects.

  • 3.

    Summary and suggestions for future virtual education about human rights.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Avatar: A 3D representation of a person in a virtual world that offers the possibility of expressing oneself through voice, text, images, and animated movements in real time interaction.

Virtual World Learning: Using the 3D environment for education that offers new ways of representing and experiencing information.

Second Life: A virtual world where avatars from anywhere on earth can interact in an immersive 3D environment.

Open Sims: Open source virtual worlds.

Human Rights: The right to have access to the essential needs of human survival such as the 30 human rights adopted by the United Nations in 1948.

Problem-Solving Strategies: Ways of thinking and acting that help achieve a person’s values and goals.

Values: The desired experiences and choices of character a person acts to create and to keep, such as their human rights.

Think Aloud and Means-End Analysis: Research methods for studying problem solving while the person is actively engaged in trying to achieve a desired goal.

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