millay worked with the Maine Children's Trust to explore options for the delivery of online parenting classes. In many areas of the country, it is difficult or impossible for parents to attend parenting classes because of situations outside of their control, such as lack of childcare, transportation, or the availability of these important classes in their area. Others may not want to attend because of the stigma that can be attached. Often times, parents that the others taking the classes might assume that they are being mandated by the state to take classes because of issues in the house. The anonymity of the avatar provides parents with a way to take these classes in a synchronous environment with a professional instructor while maintaining their anonymity. It also provides the interaction, ability to ask difficult questions, and asynchronous access to resources.
"The most challenging aspects of this learning project was in understanding the diverse motivations of the students in attending the classes, their interpretations of the materials being presented, and effect of the technology on that process. Virtual environments afforded the learners the opportunity to immerse themselves in parenting situations and navigate the options without actually testing them on their children. They were also able to interact with each other anonymously while simultaneously interacting with the instructor who knew the person's situation behind the avatar. It was an exciting and rewarding project with much potential for implementation. We will continue to explore the concept of providing parenting classes in the virtual world working with Active Parenting Publishers."
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