16 SES 10 B, Virtual Environments
Parallel Paper Session
There is current discourse in the literature about the development of "cyber infrastructure" and the critical use of technologies for learning as well as the need for Higher Education to be "future ready" in times of economic challenge (Facer & Sandford, 2010). The shape of Higher Education in the UK and internationally has been influenced by policies supporting wider access, but there is concern about student retention and completion. The important contribution of formal and informal support networks to successful transition to university and continuity and progression has also been reported in previous studies. The role of innovative new technologies, including virtual worlds, as tools to support collaborative learning or learning communities is now being investigated in alignment with the social constructivist theory of learning (Bronack et al., 2006). Inter-Life is an interdisciplinary project funded by the EPSRC/ ESRC TEL programme in the UK (Lally et al., 2009). Inter-Life is an immersive three dimensional virtual world based on the Second LifeTM platform with integrated automated data collection tools and private spaces for critical reflection (Magill et al, 2009). Inter-Life aims to provide safe spaces for young people to explore life transitions and develop skills and knowledge through participating in social learning activities (Devlin et al, 2011). Participants log on as customisable "avatars" with new affordances, including co-presence, the ability to walk, fly, communicate, interact and work with other students in a synchronous or an asynchronous manner. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the effectiveness of Inter-Life as a creative technology to support initial peer bonding, socialisation and community formation amongst a new cohort of undergraduate students embarking on the Bachelor of Technological Education (B Tech Ed) Degree at the University of Glasgow.
Bronack, S., Riedl, R. & Tashner, J., (2006). Learning in the Zone: A social constructivist framework for distance education in a 3-dimensional virtual world. Interactive Learning Environments, 14(3), 219 – 232. Devlin, A.M., Lally, V., Sclater, M. & Parussel, K., (2011). The Development of Life Transition Skills in Inter-Life: A Novel, 3-dimensional Virtual Learning Environment. In Spada, H., Stahl, G., Miyake, N., Law, N. (Eds.) Connecting Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning to Policy and Practice: CSCL 2011 Conference Proceedings. Volume II – pp 874-875. http://www.isls.org/cscl2011/doc/CSCL2011ProceedingsVol2.pdf; Erickson, F. (1986). Qualitative methods in research on teaching. In M. C. Wittrock (Ed.), Handbook of research on teaching (3rd ed., pp. 119-161). New York: MacMillan Press. Facer, K. & Sandford, R., (2010). The next 25 years?: future scenarios and future directions for education and technology. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 26(1), 74- 93. Helsper, E.J. & Eynon, R., (2010). Digital natives: Where is the evidence? British Educational Research Journal 36(3), 503-520. Lally, V., Magill, E., Magill, J., Canavan, B., Kolberg, M., Pomerantz, M., Sclater, M., Trinder, J. & Brindley, S. (2009). Inter-Life: Interoperability and Transition. In: CAL09 – Learning in Digital Worlds, Brighton, UK. Magill, J., Canavan, B., Devlin, A.M., Trinder, J., Magill, E. & Pomerantz, M., (2009). A Fusion of Mobile Technology and Second LifeTM in a learning environment to support the transition from School to University.” In Blackey, H. Jefferies, A. Masterman, L and Whalley,B. (Eds). “In Dreams begins Responsibility – Choice, Evidence and Change.” (ALT-C 2009). Available at http://www.repository.alt.ac.uk/46; Sfard, A. & Prusak, A. (2005). Telling Identities: In Search of an Analytic Tool for Investigating Learning as a Culturally Shaped Activity. Educational Researcher 34(4), 14-22.
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