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Avatars Develop Real World Skills

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Virtual worlds do not disengage young people from real life, but rather provide unique environments for learning and negotiating new situations, according to academics participating in the Inter-Life project.

Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, the project developed three-dimensional (3D) virtual worlds to serve as informal communities for interacting in shared activities using avatars. As part of the project, young people pursued creative activities such as filmmaking and photography, and were encouraged to use the virtual environments and try new forms of communication, including those used in online gaming.

The students coped with different scenarios in their virtual worlds and participated in online communities over several months, showing that they developed skills that are used in real-world settings, such as organizational and cognitive skills. "We demonstrated that you can plan activities with kids and get them working in 3D worlds with commitment, energy, and emotional involvement over a significant period of time," says University of Glasgow professor Victor Lally.

From Economic & Social Research Council
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