Dizzywood is a new virtual world for tweens created by the folks over at ROCKETpaperscissors. Like other virtual communities geared for the tween set (I'm talking Doko, Webkinz, Neopets, Moshi Monsters) users can create an avatar, connect with friends, play games and activities that earn them unique super powers and other rewards.
The team behind Dizzywood have designed a virtual environment that "encourages kids to engage in challenging activities and cooperate with others, while developing important cognitive skills. I had my pre-tween nephew give Dizzywood a go this afternoon and he was instantly hooked. He loved the animation and said that the games were "really, really fun."
Beyond the element of online play, Dizzyworld is using their virtual world to teach kids about the environment and other life skills like honesty, digital citizenship and respect. Dizzyworld recently joined with the Arbor Day Foundation on a promotion that allowed Dizzyworld citizens to plant a virtual tree to reforest a damaged area within the online world of Dizzywood.
But here's the really cool part: when you plant a virtual tree in the Dizzyworld forest, a real tree is planted on Earth. And as the virtual tree grows, kids are able to see how the tree is able to clean pollution from the skies above Dizzyworld. This is a great way situate the lessons learned in a virtual world, into a real world context and provide kids with a sense of empowerment and a purposeful gaming experience.
Dizzywood's ability to successfully mash together virtual games, social responsibility and collaborative skills has caught the eye of the YMCA of San Francisco has announced plans to integrate Dizzyworld into their education technology curriculum.
Here's more from the Press Release on the partnership:
"The YMCA is using Dizzywood’s virtual environment to reinforce its program emphasis on activities that promote values such as caring, honesty, respect and responsibility.
Children also learn about important issues relating to virtual worlds, such as digital citizenship and online safety, as well as complete storytelling and team-building exercises that emphasize creativity, writing and reading skills, and working together to achieve goals."
Almost every week it seems like there is a new virtual world being launched with no real purpose other than shopping or fun-based gaming activities. It's refreshing to see a product like Dizzyworld that has a strong educational component cleverly woven into the practice of play.
Creating an educational and fun virtual learning environment that kids will actually use is no small feat. It looks like Rocketpaperscissors team is well on their way to finding that magical mix between learning, technology and community.
So give Dizzyworld a whirl, plant your virtual tree and have fun!