Yesterday I had the pleasure of conversing with Whyville.net founder, James Bower. If you are not familiar with Whyville, it is an educational virtual world created for kids, launched in 1999. Players earn “clams"—the currency of Whyville—by completing certain educational activities and taking on jobs in the virtual world. Players do everything from helping to publish the community’s newspaper, The Whyville Times; running the power grid for Whyville; and even taking out loans to buy big-ticket items in Whyville, such as cars. It is quite literally a self-organized community of kids that has been up and running for more than a decade.
As a precursor to our interview, Bower sent me link to a TED talk he gave in San Antonio. He talks extensively about Whyville, as well as the reasons to move away from print textbooks to virtual education opportunities. It’s about 20 minutes, but well worth the time to watch. Take a look below.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.