FORMULATING AN INNOVATIVE TRAINING FRAMEWORK FOR STEM ENTREPRENEURSHIP
The constant evolution of the technology is taking the education to new ways, much more attractive to the students, making possible the use of new tools, taking to an evolution on the teaching process. The Virtual Reality takes an important place in this evolution and is being more and more used in the education, allowing the students to find out, to explore and to build their own knowledge.
With the advent of technology and the ever growing demands young students are facing, the issue of learning in virtual worlds has become a desired reality. More and more efforts are being made in order to finance and implement new time-saving technologies that can help us learn efficiently and without being disconnected from the academic environment. The question remains whether these groundbreaking approaches can successfully improve the conventional face-to-face lesson or even replace it and if so, what are the steps one needs to follow in order to develop a “virtual curriculum”.
Virtual world environments can support a wide range of educational procedures and a broad spectrum of training activities. They can be utilized in order to assist tutors in teaching and also students in learning and most of all to enhance the quality and the efficiency of educational procedures. Teachers and tutors can utilize virtual world educational environments to assist themselves in better teaching several aspects of their courses. Indeed the capabilities that the virtual worlds offer can provide new opportunities to teachers to formulate their courses’ curriculum and conduct their lectures.
In this work, we present a virtual reality educational environment that assist students in learning aspects of STEM entrepreneurship. More specifically, in the virtual world students can study several courses that deal with the STEM domain and also generic courses on entrepreneurship. Innovative learning approaches and training activities were developed in order to assist students in learning effectively in an entertaining way. Also, special learning methods are design aiming to support students’ collaborative learning. The learning affordances of the virtual world are properly designed to scaffold both students’ efficient learning and teachers lecture conduction. The term “affordances” refers to the characteristics and potential uses that individual learners felt that virtual world had to offer them. In other words, different learners saw different potential applications and implications in the range of tools to which they were exposed. The virtual world environment can also allow the students’ interaction with various virtual objects and constructions. Also, in the virtual world, teachers can have the opportunity to better explain to their students how procedures are conducted and how complex objects are created. The virtual world constructions provide teachers the means to explain to their students the exact way that various machineries operates, plants are designed and created and escape the narrow borders of just using text and book study material. Indeed, virtual worlds and the constructions in them can provide a very comprehensive way for students to learn and for teachers to explain the exact operation of various procedures. The study revealed quite interesting results indicating that the courses and the virtual reality educational environment developed are quite efficient in assisting students and teachers.