Transforming Virtual World Learning: Volume 4

Cover of Transforming Virtual World Learning

Table of contents

(22 chapters)
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The part covers the planning process from the perspective of the instructor. Our global set of authors span Europe, Asia, and the Americas. The principle concept is that the science of learning, the cybergogy, that has emerged in technologies like virtual worlds requires faculty to think in terms of learning archetypes. As faculty plan for activities and ways to manage attention in activity-based learning environments, they will think in terms of building around avatars, engaged in finding things, and responding to critical incidences. In doing so, teaching and learning grows around visual stimulation, engagement, collaborative motivation, personal interest, context in the subject matter, and “contemporarity” of the learning environment. The process for teaching in virtual worlds mirrors other emerging technology. Educators need to lead by example, using the technology themselves to build their expertise. They must garner support from their stakeholders and create and engage in professional development courses that focus on virtual worlds so they can prepare and be prepared for delivering in the environment.

Our university demonstrates a strong investment in online education and as part of continuing development delivers some existing online programs in a 3D virtual world. Faculty members need a plan to engage, so they were guided in the adoption of our cybergogy of learning archetypes and learning domains to draw together various aspects of learning. Together we weave threads from orthodox theories with a doctrine of educational technologies that encompasses social-centric 3D interactive virtual environments. This chapter documents the growth of the model from theory into practice to provide a framework for instructors to plan their virtual courses. Five Second Life®-enhanced courses were developed, scheduled and marketed to enrolled students to test the framework. The teaching and learning strategies adopted are reported and outcomes are presented.

This chapter reports on the innovative and developing use of a virtual world environment to support the training and professional development of pre-service teachers of information and communications technology (ICT), information technology (IT) and computing. The findings show that the online experience promotes confidence and competence in virtual world activity. It also stimulates thinking about the potential of alternative methods for teaching and learning in schools. The case study participants were 16 trainee teachers aged between 21 and 55 years old, with varying backgrounds including those with careers in the computing industry, those straight from university and those having spent considerable time in schools as unqualified teachers. In Second Life they experienced a number of environments and discussed the potential of virtual worlds. The tutors believe that Second Life can offer a valuable environment to promote engagement by pre-service teachers in innovative and imaginative methods of teaching and for them to better understand the affordances of virtual worlds.

This chapter provides information on using virtual worlds for faculty and teacher professional development. The information presented in this chapter has been discovered through an examination of relevant literature with regard to utilizing virtual worlds in higher education. Among topics explored, the authors discuss the following: information regarding theoretical frameworks of teaching and learning, including social constructivism, experiential learning, and problem-based learning; the process for teaching instructors how to use virtual worlds across a variety of curricula; modeling of good practices in teaching and learning in a simulated environment; and the process of teaching faculty how to teach with virtual worlds. In addition, issues of access, technology needs, student training, expectations, and assessment within virtual worlds are discussed. Examples of faculty development including single workshops and entire conferences are shown with specific focus on successes and challenges of conducting these activities within a virtual worlds. In presenting these examples, it is hoped that individuals in higher education will gain a better perspective of utilizing virtual worlds in their practice.

This chapter describes pre-service teachers' teaching practices of didactic methods based on cognitive apprenticeship. The purpose of this chapter is to demonstrate potential of Second Life® as a space for teaching practices of pre-service teachers. The participants were 160 college students who were completing a practicum at Korea National University of Education. These students enrolled in four sections of teaching methods and educational technology, which was one of the requirements for their teaching certificate. The students were placed in groups of three to five students according to their majors. In Second Life, they practiced their teaching and participated in the evaluation of other groups' teaching. They discussed Second Life's potential, such as a space for expanding their teaching experiences and explored possibilities for using it as an environment for teaching practices. The authors believe that readers will find that Second Life can offer a valuable environment to promote pre-teachers' understanding of teaching techniques.

Since the prevalence of virtual worlds in society has grown exponentially in recent years and virtual worlds have demonstrated an incredible power to engage participants in ways in which traditional education has not, virtual worlds provide us an excellent opportunity to create engaging, collaborative, and academically challenging learning situations. Also, given the new media literacy of many of younger students, we in higher education are in many ways meeting them where they already are …or should be. By integrating virtual worlds into instruction, the Virtual Education Research Group (VERG) at Middlesex Community College in Massachusetts provides students with these collaborative experiences. Through a sustained community of practice and experimentation with a variety of virtual world platforms including ActiveWorlds, World of Warcraft, Warhammer, City of Heroes Architect, Forbidden City, and Second Life, some general principles and specific learning activities emerge for instructors integrating virtual worlds into the classroom. The basic concepts of connecting with technical and administrative support, choosing a world with thematic connections to your subject, creating scheduled opportunities to play and learn together, and committing to providing a strong online presence have been expanded upon to create a flexible model that can be applied across disciplines. Through the work of VERG at Middlesex Community College, virtual worlds are now used in a variety of instructional disciplines, ranging from humanities to psychology to business. Several case studies illustrating unique and effective practices are provided.

This chapter discusses two instructional designs that sought to leverage the multiuser virtual environment Second Life to support learning and instruction with both undergraduate and graduate students at two different universities. We examine each of these curricular developments in depth and provide findings from research conducted with each. Using data collected from students and faculty, we describe 11 research-based virtual world design principles that emerged from each experience that include such suggestions as Create opportunities for sustaining virtual community beyond a task and Expect your learners to go off-task. These principles may be used by readers to guide future designs that use virtual worlds to support learning.

Online learning in higher education has, until most recently, been delivered primarily through learning management systems (LMS) such as BlackBoard, Moodle, and others. However, responding to budgetary concerns and burgeoning enrollments, delivery of online learning via multiple open source (free) formats, is quickly becoming an attractive and inexpensive option for online distance and learning programs. Multi-user virtual environments, or MUVEs, are one such option that provides an interactive and socially rich learning experience for learners. In this chapter, the authors propose a dually fused pedagogical framework that has the potential to provide both asynchronous and synchronous online learning activities the elicit critical thinking skills and that further align with additional skills twenty-first century learners and instructors need to compete in today's global society.

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In 2002 Arcada began an experiment that aimed to develop a learning laboratory in the form of a virtual culture embodied in an online world. This chapter examines how and why this was attempted, the opportunities that it offered, and the reasons why the experiment was ended. It draws from interviews with staff and students, both during and after the project, as well as papers and reports written as the project evolved. Marinetta Ombro was designed to explore several possibilities inherent in online worlds, other than their use as “virtual classrooms” – possibilities that were intended to derive a pedagogical approach that drew from the core features of multiuser worlds, rather than ignoring them. These included the ever-present possibility of creative disruption. The chapter presents a case study that focuses on an approach to virtuality that was genuinely challenging and innovative. It offers practical and theoretical insights, including a sample learning plan, for educators wishing to explore virtual worlds as well as those wishing to reimagine their current work.

An innovative approach for enhancing college courses using virtual worlds was developed to raise the students' level of engagement, promote critical thinking, and meet pedagogical objectives. Reaching to a new level of teaching delivery, this approach involves conducting tours of rich and exciting virtual world venues and assigning students' reflective assignments during and after the tour. In this chapter, the procedures for conducting virtual educational tours are presented, descriptions of explored virtual demonstrations and simulations are provided, findings from the learning experiences are discussed, and students' reactions to the technologies based on comprehensive surveys are shared. Furthermore, key lessons learned and recommended teaching strategies are provided and future plans for application of cutting-edge technologies to education are described.

Immersive and collaborative virtual worlds can offer educationalists a future-focused solution to enhancing the learning experience they provide. Problem-based learning (PBL) is one option by which virtual worlds can provide a creative solution to providing physical-world experience within a safe and controlled environment free from the consequences associated with typical physical-world experiences. This collaborative approach to teaching and learning can be run synchronously or asynchronously and is based on sound pedagogical principles. PBL within virtual worlds can be used to provide an active and engaging learning experience that enables individuals to learn safely and effectively within a complex and realistic environment, allowing the student to be at the centre of, and in relative control of, their own learning experience.

This chapter evaluates the potential of virtual worlds for intercultural collaborative learning. A case study of a global lecture series is presented that used a virtual world as a platform for intercultural student collaboration. Students' subjective reports served as a basis for exploring cross-cultural differences in the perceived usefulness of virtual worlds for intercultural collaboration, and to examine what they have learned from working in an intercultural virtual team, what problems occurred, and how they resolved them. Based on the evaluation results, suggestions are provided for a culture-aware design of virtual worlds to facilitate intercultural collaborative learning and the development of intercultural literacy.

This chapter describes our innovative approach to the teaching of computer programming and writing; professors worked with students across classes united by a theme of narrative. A year-long study examined if using Alice, a three-dimensional microworld programming software that allows users to create interactive narratives, was more effective than Visual Basic (VB) in developing problem-solving abilities in first-year college students in introductory computer programming courses. Results revealed that although both the Alice and VB group showed a statistically significant (p<0.05) increase in performance for problem-solving questions related to computer programming, only the Alice group showed a significant increase in problem-solving abilities not directly related to computer programming, and an increase in student retention.

This chapter explores how Jass Easterman (the author's avatar name) teaches education students concurrently, both pre-service teachers and postgraduate, in Second Life. It discusses how a virtual world can be a valuable teaching and learning tool for the whole group even though they have a variety of overall goals and learning outcomes. Jass brings distant university students located around the world studying at the one institution together to liaise with each other in Second Life. She has created an innovative tutorial model where students go on virtual tours, visit other educational institutions, attend guest lectures, undertake role play activities, and go on Web quests and learn basic building and scripting skills, all from their own homes. Adult learning theories and communities of practice, in a virtual world, underpin all activities. Why Second Life was chosen for these students and what the students say about this type of learning are discussed in this chapter. The value of this tutorial model will be explored and reflected upon and conclusions made of its efficacy.

About the Authors

Pages 357-364
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Youngkyun Baek is professor of educational technology at Boise State University, USA. He had been teaching since 1991 at Korea National University of Education. Previously, he worked at Korea Educational Development Institute. His research interests are on instructional games, simulation, and mobile devices in education. He has presented several papers at SITE, NECC, AERA, and OECD Expert Meeting on gaming and simulations. Recently, he published two books on educational games and wrote several book chapters. Now he is designing a social network game on global warming and doing a research on intrinsic motivational factors in instructional games.

Subject Index

Pages 365-366
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Cover of Transforming Virtual World Learning
Publication date
Book series
Cutting-Edge Technologies in Higher Education
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
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