Children’s Museums in Educational Virtual Worlds for Children

By Lea Kuznik.

Published by The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Milions of people all over the world are spending their leisure time in virtual learning environments, especially in virtual worlds. Virtual worlds present possibilities for learning in a virtual learning environment. Virtual worlds are persistent virtual environments in which people experience others as being there with them and where they can interact with them. How do classic and children’s museums keep up with virtual worlds and educational trends? Virtual worlds for adults (e.g. SecondLife, There, Lively…) and children (e.g. Whyville, Habbo, Webkinz...) have a great potential of learning and teaching practices for enriching wider public and engendering collective experience and collaboration. Informal learning environments such as virtual worlds offer children and adults various intellectual activities and sensory activities or flow experiences, according to Csikszentmihalyi. Above all, children and adults can explore things and learn in a different way and from a different perspective. What kind of learning possibilities do the educational virtual worlds enable the children? The paper will analyze learning possibilities and opportunities in selected educational virtual worlds for children (e.g. Whyville, HandiPoints…) which can be useful for children’s museums.
Virtual worlds can introduce quality learning environments and expand educational impact. If museums want to be socially inclusive they have to offer wide-ranging resources also in virtual worlds.

Keywords: Children’s Museum, Virtual Worlds, Flow Experience, Educational Games, Informal Learning, Interaction

International Journal of the Inclusive Museum, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp.35-44. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.141MB).

Dr. Lea Kuznik

Assistant, Department of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology, Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia, Slovenia

Born in 1975 in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Graduated in 1999, master`s degree in 2004 and doctor`s degree in 2007 at University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Arts, Department of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology. She is an assistant for Slovene Ethnology. She has been taking interests on museology, children’s museums and interactive learning spaces, pedagogical and psychological theories of learning and play and developmental theories of children for more than seven years. Her doctoral thesis presents first scientific research on field of children’s museums in Slovenia. Her research is focused on up-to date technologies, virtual museums, virtual worlds, such as Second Life and how to transfer the concept of children’s museum in interactive virtual learning environment (for example: Club Penguin, Neopets, Whyville, Barbie Girls…). She strongly believes that the concept of a children’s museum can be efficiently applied to a different “non museum” or “alternative” environment. Her recent research project was designing an interactive learning environment in a shopping centre.

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