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Virtual worlds are an emerging form of technology where users can take the form of an avatar and move around within a simulated environment. Such worlds may have potential in the field of education to provide students with new learning opportunities by affording participation in tasks that often would not be possible in the real world due to constraints and restrictions, such as cost, scheduling, or location. Although there is growing support that virtual worlds may promote student learning, such environments generally have yet to be designed to be developmentally appropriate for student use, to align to learning objectives, to be easily integrated into existing teacher instruction and practice, and ultimately to produce learning gains. This project team is developing a three-dimensional (3D) virtual replica of Machu Picchu national park and the ancient Incan ruins in Peru. The online environment will be designed for classroom use and is intended to foster engagement in learning and enhance gains in a set of multidisciplinary outcomes.
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