Georgia district selects virtual world host

Forsyth County Schools announced today that it has selected Dreamland Metaverse to host the NOBLE Virtual World on the OpenSim platform. The metro Atlanta district, with 35 schools and 38000 students, is the first major school system in the nation to offer a 3-D virtual world environment to every classroom teacher. The selection of Dreamland Metaverse was based upon its ability to provide hosted OpenSim virtual world services with extended functionality such as the enterprise-level management of accounts with various levels of user rights, the creation of school groups, and other tools and procedures that ensure a safe and secure online experience for students.

A virtual world is a digital place where people using characters called avatars meet and interact with each other—a chat-room with graphics. Unlike a digital game, a virtual world is not pre-scripted. Because users may create anything they can imagine, a virtual world is a tool for creativity, construction, role playing, experimentation and learning to work with others.

“NOBLE stands for New Opportunities for Better Learning Experiences. With NOBLE we can deliver immersive learning adventures that engage students in more authentic and engaging ways.” said Jill Hobson, Director of Instructional Technology, Forsyth County Schools.

“We built a scale model of a section of the Berlin Wall,” said Steve Mashburn, the grid-master for NOBLE."After visiting the 3-D model, with its guard towers, dog runs, booby-traps and barricades, the students internalized the Soviet repression of East Germany in a real and meaningful way. They developed higher-order thinking skills such as creativity, data analysis and problem-solving by working in teams to devise an escape plan over the wall. They then placed their own graffiti art to the west side of the wall to express their understanding of the Cold War. NOBLE is both a time-machine and an Aladdin’s Lamp!”

“This program is educational on so many different levels,” added 5th grade teacher Tracey Abercrombie, an early adopter. “I'm excited to bring in the economic lessons of supply and demand as well as profit/loss when they begin buying and selling in their virtual stores. The sense of community that is building through this experience is awesome and I can see talents in my students that I wouldn't normally get to see. This is the most fun I've had in my career!”

Although Forsyth County Schools had attempted to use virtual world technology in the past, concerns about student safety and a lack of management tools prevented the district from fully implementing a virtual world. However, the partnership with Dreamland Metaverse now gives the district a 3-D virtual space that meets their high instructional standards and addresses their concerns for student safety.