Virtual Worlds in Education
Arden I: The World of William Shakespeare has been released recently (29th Nov 07). If you go to this website, you can play it. You can also download the files and modify it as you wish. There's an informative extract about it from the Beeb's excellent iPM programme here - it sounds great! However, according to this review, it seems it's over before it's begun...
I've seen a lot written about Virtual Worlds and their educational use over the last year and was present at an excellent demonstration of Second Life at Educa Berlin by Dr Sian Bayne (University of Edinburgh). I certainly agreed with her focus on the 'uncanny' the weirdness of the space, but was surprised to realise just how PERFECT it might be for creating a sense of community for distance learners. Apparently, Second Life is particularly good for role playing and socialising, thus making it an excellent tool for distance learning, which depends crucially on the early scaffolding of socialisation. It's also pretty good for fluency work in language learning - learners are not so self conscious when playing a role (an 'avatar').
However, there are admitted system limitations and problems with avatar identities across cultures, etc., - interesting to watch developments but perhaps early days yet?
More: Virtual Worlds Reading List (Virtual Worlds in general and also educational possibilities)