Meaningful Assessment within Virtual Worlds: What Should It Look Like?

In: Utopia and a Garden Party
Geoffrey Crisp
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Virtual worlds can provide opportunities for authentic learning and assessment in 3-dimensional environments but for many discipline-based teachers the skill level required to construct these activities is often beyond their current capabilities. Most discipline-based teachers need professional assistance to build the virtual world and to construct learning and assessment activities within the world. Teachers are normally entrusted to design assessment tasks aligned to prescribed learning outcomes; the use of professionally designed virtual worlds for learning activities often leads to a disconnect between the design of the assessment task and the design of the learning activities in the virtual world. Although significant effort has been placed on designing elaborate 3-dimensional environments that are engaging for learners, the corresponding effort associated with designing engaging assessment activities within virtual worlds has been minimal. Many teachers will use learning activities within virtual worlds and then assess their students out-of-world, using traditional methods such as essays or online tools such as wikis, blogs, discussion boards or e-portfolios. This means that the assessment is associated with reflections after the events within the virtual world rather than timely assessments associated with in-world activities or the analysis of data accumulated as students perform tasks within the virtual world. This chapter examines some of the current attempts to provide assessment tools for teachers to use within virtual worlds and how assessment tasks can be designed to integrate numerous in-world and browser accessed activities that facilitate flow in learning and assessment. The use of the Sloodle set combined with browser based resources will be presented, as will the use of scripted prims and bots to engage students in scenario based activities where the students’ responses can be used for assessment purposes.

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