Can you imagine a school where students visit the Sistine Chapel and are back home by the bell? Or a school where students learn to operate lasers on the moon or explore sea life on the bottom of the ocean floor? Or a school where students travel back in time to meet Beethoven, Davy Crockett or Alexander the Great?
Soon such a school might exist in South Carolina if the proposed NOBLE Virtual School, based upon interactive 3D virtual world technology, is successful with its charter application. As a charter public school, students in South Carolina would pay no tuition to attend the school and there would be no special requirement for admission. Like other virtual schools, students would study from home on their computer but there the similarity to other online educational programs ends.
Rather than “read the material and take the multiple-choice test,” students at NOBLE Virtual School will spend most of their time interacting with teachers and other students inside an interactive 3D virtual world. Students, as graphical characters called “avatars,” will have the ability to communicate with each other simultaneously and the capacity to build and manipulate 3D models of almost anything they can imagine. The virtual world platform will provide students the opportunity to work more collaboratively with each other and to learn concepts not easily understood from a textbook or lecture.
“No longer is education bounded by limitations of time, space and resources,” explains Steve Mashburn, the future principal of the school. “If one can think it, one can do it in the NOBLE Virtual World – from reenactments of historical events to simulated science experiments to role-playing famous novels.”
Mashburn continues, “Instead of just studying math, students become engineers who use math to construct a suspended bridge. Instead of just studying science, they become hydrologists who use science to uncover the source of water pollution in a river. Instead of just studying art, they become graphic designers who use art to create effective advertising on outdoor billboards. Instructionally, the sky is the limit and we are very excited about bringing this type of educational innovation to the children of South Carolina.”
If approved by the South Carolina Public Charter School District in August, the school will open in the fall of 2014. Interested parents are asked to place their child on a waiting list found on the school’s website at http://noblevirtual.org