Eighty percent of Internet users are expected to engage in some form of virtual world activity by 2011, according to the Gartner Research Group, and librarians and educators need to capitalize on these fantastic teaching/learning tools.

WHYVILLE

www.whyville.net


WHYVILLE is an educational virtual world for children and teenagers. According to the website, it was originally established to support an LA Times weekly science education article, this world's motto is "learning by doing." True to its word, WHYVILLE actively engages its visitors and encourages them to participate in fun, educational events that give kids "hands-on" experience with virtual science projects.

Oh, the fun that could be had with this virtual world! Librarians and teachers could set up science “labs” either through science classes or science clubs that meet in the library. Based on school science curriculum, librarians could create activities and lesson plans that compliment and continue to build upon what is happening in the classroom.

Karen Green

THERE

www.there.com


According to their website, THERE is a virtual "everyday getaway." THERE has several virtual locales for visitors to explore, including a tropical island setting for virtual surfers, and a simulated Egypt complete with Sphinx and pyramids. Members are encouraged to explore THERE with buggies and "hoverboards" that carry avatars safely and swiftly around virtual terrain. All avatars are human and can be customized to have a wide variety of face and body shapes. A favorite activity of THERE members is the outfitting of their avatars with custom-made clothing items, which can be purchased with in-world currency called "THEREbucks." THEREbucks can be purchased with a credit card or earned by creating and selling original clothing designs, vehicles and other objects.
Buggy races, hoverboard races, in-world quests and avatar paintball are popular activities and, with the addition of neighborhoods, many THEREIANS are finding a patch of virtual land to call home.

This virtual world could be used in conjunction with a 6th grade World Cultures curriculum that explores new and old world locations alike. Depending on what the class was studying, the librarian could use this virtual world website as either an opening or closing activity for the students. It could also be used to build map skills. Since purchases are required for essentials in this virtual world, the librarian could work with math teachers on balancing checkbooks or earning interest on money paid.

Karen Green