Research - Pedagogy

Which learning and teaching approaches suit the use of virtual worlds in education?

Anecdotal evidence suggests that teachers who successfully use virtual worlds with students are comfortable with the following
  • Giving students control of their own learning - giving students choice and responsibility and allowing them to make mistakes
  • Learning through play - allowing students to play 'off-task' so they can build skills while getting used to the environment
  • Defined tasks - structures learning with some defined tasks, clear purposes and goals - preferably negotiated
  • Active facilitation - helps students to assist each other; in-world facilitation
  • Teacher as learner - learning with students; happy to let students lead; does not need 100% understanding to proceed
  • Excursion attitude - taking students and self out of classroom comfort zone; taking risks
  • Not bound by content delivery - allows time to establish desired learning processes;
  • Student engagement is a priority - student centred approaches
  • Back-up in case technology fails - has a meaningful back-up plan if technology suddenly fails temporarily

The above teaching dispositions are often found in the following approaches to learning

See Creating a Virtual World Mindset: A Guide for First Time Second Life Teachers
This practical guide is for individuals who want to create effective SL teaching and learning experiences.

See also Quest-Atlantis-Teaching: Tips for Implementation

Examples of where virtual worlds might be used for learning - see also Getting Started
  • Role play – shop assistant
  • Social – dance, play
  • Exhibition and performance – creative and performing arts
  • Scenarios – Occupational Health and Safety
  • Conversations – languages
  • Building – 3D geometry
  • Business – environmental management
  • Community – class, group, organization
  • Cultural Awareness – contemporary, historical
  • Story telling – machinima
  • Theatre – lighting
  • Simulations – heart
  • Pedagogical (Learning) agents – historical characters

Recommendations for possible Guidelines/Standards

  • When considering which teachers to invite to use virtual worlds look for complementary learning and teaching approaches such as collaborative learning, student-directed learning, problem-based learning, project-based learning or enterprise-based learning.