S. Carolina considers virtual world charter school

Press release: Virtual worlds non-profit applies for charter school status in North Carolina

ATLANTA  – Can you imagine a school where students visit the Sistine Chapel, the Louvre and the Basilica of St. Francis and are back home by the bell? Or a school where students learn to operate lasers on the moon or explore sea life on the bottom of the ocean floor? Or a school where students travel back in time to meet Beethoven, Davy Crockett or Alexander the Great?

Soon such a school might exist in South Carolina if the proposed NOBLE Virtual School, based upon interactive 3D technology, is successful with its charter application. As a charter public school, students in South Carolina would pay no tuition to attend and there would be no special requirements for admissions. Like other virtual schools, students would study from home but there the similarity to other online educational programs ends.

Rather than “read the material, make a post in the discussion board and take the multiple choice test,” students at NOBLE Virtual School will spend most of their time interacting with teachers and other students in a virtual world. The ability to communicate with one another simultaneously and to build and manipulate 3D objects provides students the opportunity to learn concepts not easily learned from a textbook or lecture.

Craig Levan

Craig Levan

“We are very excited about the possibility of providing this type of educational innovation to the children of South Carolina,” said Dr. Craig Levan, Director of School Development for NOBLE Virtual, Inc., “No longer is education bounded by limitations of time, space and resources. If one can think it, one can do it in the virtual world – from reenactments of historical events to simulated science experiments to role-playing characters from famous novels. Instructionally, the sky is the limit.”

NOBLE (New Opportunities for Better Learning Environments) was a concept developed and implemented by Steve Mashburn, former Coordinator of Online Learning in Forsyth County Schools, one of Georgia top-rated school systems and a national leader in instructional technology, and now president and CEO of NOBLE Virtual, Inc..

NOBLE Virtual School of South Carolina. (Image courtesy Noble.)

NOBLE Virtual School of South Carolina. (Image courtesy Noble Virtual Inc.)


Steve Mashburn

Steve Mashburn

“After we saw the success of NOBLE with our students, we felt the need to push it out to the wider community,” said Mashburn. “Since Forsyth County Schools does not have the mandate or financial resources to provide and service virtual worlds to other states and schools systems, we felt that the best solution was to promote the endeavor through a non-profit organization.”

NOBLE Virtual is applying for charters in several states and is also planning to operate a tuition-based international school for those students who do not live in the United States or in a state without a NOBLE Virtual Charter School. Parents are encouraged to place their child on the prospective student list at noblevirtual.org as soon as possible.


NOBLE VIRTUAL, Inc. (formerly known as the Association of Virtual World Educators, Inc.) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the identification, promotion and implementation of best practices in virtual worlds technology for K12 education. NOBLE VIRTUAL develops and distributes instructional units for the OpenSim virtual world platform and other digital media to public and private schools. In addition, the organization operates NOBLE LAND, a “closed-garden” OpenSim virtual world for the delivery of K12 instruction. More information is at noblevirtual.org


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4 Responses

  1. I’ve been watching the Noble development for awhile now. I knew they were doing some classes with OpenSim in Cumming Georgia. I didn’t know that they had made a standalone school out of it. I can’t really tell from the article, but I wonder, is this charter school stuff working now (for students to en-roll now or by fall?), or is it some proposed project to happen way down the road?

    • stevemashburn@noblevirtual.org' Steve Mashburn says:

      NOBLE Virtual is applying for charters in several states. The charter process takes two years in most states and each state is slightly different. We are on the 4th step of a 5-step process in South Carolina but the application for Georgia is not due until June 14th. if approved by their respective states, NOBLE Virtual of South Carolina and NOBLE Virtual; of Georgia would open in the fall of 2014. We are asking that interested students get their names on a waiting list now. We are also gathering names of teachers who may be interested in teaching.

      Please know that NOBEL Virtual Inc., while stemming from Forsyth County School’s NOBEL Virtual World, is an independent non-profit organization. Although the school system is very supportive of scaling OpenSim throughout the nation, there was no legal mechanism for the forsyth County Schools to become an OpenSim developer and distributor to other schools and districts.

      • Thanks for the info Steve, I’m rooting for this project. I potentially had a high-school relative (in North GA) that would enjoy the school and get a lot out of it -if it was starting this fall, but alas, they will be well into their last year by 2014. At any rate wishing you well on your education/ opensim journey and good luck with your charter schools. I’ll let certified-teachers and kids know about the project, if If I think they would be a good fit.

  2. appstwitt@gmail.com' The Twitt says:

    This is really amazing to know that the Virtual Reality is actually touching some real lives in Education branch. The previous instances were regarding the Medical branch that was talking about this ‘so-called Game Oriented Technology’ uses. It has actually touched millions and millions of lives through marketing, Education, Travel, Memorials, emotions, etc.