Saturday, June 5, 2021

2021 #VWEDU: Narrative-based learning in virtual worlds can be a form of PBL and/or of gamified learning. The detective story as a model.

Narrative-based learning in virtual worlds 
can be a form of PBL 
and/or of gamified learning. 
The detective story as a model. 
An illustration of how to integrate narrative, project, inquiry, gamification and role-playing into the basis for learning.

Telling is not teaching

Who would use narrative-based learning?

  • Second language teachers using the target language.
  • English teachers giving writing practice.
  • Math teachers posing word problems.
  • History teachers giving anecdotes relevant to the historical period.
  • Any teacher showing the use of any subject.
  • Any teacher using a narrative in game-based learning.
  • Any teacher wanting to teach critical thinking skills.


A draft plan: Detective story


Learner tasks

  • Learners role play as investigators or detectives.
  • Teams of 3 or 4 students are assigned to work together.  
  • Each team is given an assignment which is essentially a puzzle.
  • The puzzle requires specialized (instructionally relevant) knowledge to solve.
  • The overall task of the team is to prepare and present a report of their findings.
  • The presentation is made to Commissioner Gordon (the teacher) and the class

Template for a simple puzzle

  • There are several suspects, all supposed to be experts in the instructional subject. 
  • One (or more) is a fraud.  
  • All suspects answer questions about the subject.
  • The clue is that the fraud makes serious errors.  
  • The task of the team is to identify the errors and thus the fraud.

Role assignments

  • In the simplest case, all team members have the same role.
  • But the teacher will designate one member as AIC (Agent In Charge).
  • The team may give individual tasks (roles) in its investigations.  
  • If achievement badges are awarded, they may be used for later role assignments.

What they are practicing (learning)

  • Planning
  • Goal setting
  • Team work, team management
  • Research
  • Evaluation of evidence
  • Organization of rational argument
  • Oral presentation
  • Rational defense of a position. 


Digital teacher assistant (DTA)



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  • Selby Evans in Kitely and Hypergrid, Thinkerer Melville in Second Life.

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