20 SES 09, Using New Technologies and Systems Transforming Education and Learning in Multicultural Contexts
One of the key challenges for European Careers Work in the 21st century will be to evaluate emerging uses of digital technologies to deliver enhanced careers-work practice in a multiplicity of challenging economic and social settings. There is now a bewildering array of digital platforms and tools available. These technologies develop with a rapidity that makes systematic evaluation difficult even for researchers working with them in a sustained way. For many careers practitioners it may feel impossible to undertake such evaluations, let alone implement the technologies in a pilot setting where there may be conflicting professional and research pressures, as well as resourcing issues for undertaking such work.
‘Virtual Worlds’ are one of these rapidly changing internet-based technologies – one that shows very considerable promise for work in the Careers Guidance field. This aim of this paper is to examine this promise through an evaluative and critical account of virtual worlds that focus on supporting the development of life skills in young people in intercultural settings, using an arts-based approach.
1. Development of skills and resources (cultural; experiential; systems/economic): What skills and resources to manage transitions are developed through individual and group engagement in virtual world scenarios?
2. Transfer from the Context: How do skills and resources acquired in virtual worlds transfer into real- life contexts?
User-controlled ‘avatars’ can work together in a very wide range of ‘realistic’ activities where the ‘users’ can be young people and their advisers/mentors/supervisors who may be geographically distributed. However, there are as yet very few reports in the literature of the realisation of this potential in the careers and guidance field. We provide an example from two of over 40 participant-led workshop sessions that took place in an international Virtual Research Community during the project. At the present time the project continues to analyse and assess the many activities in which young people from both the U.K. and Trinidad were engaged during the workshops.
Virtual Worlds offer many possibilities for creative approaches to learning, the development of creative practice and emotional literacy (Doyle, 2008; Gaimster, 2008). Early innovators in the field of creative expression in virtual worlds (Moser & MacLeod, 1996) provided the intellectual basis and impetus for the development of a range of artistic practices that were previously ‘impossible’ in ‘real life’. There is now a burgeoning range of artistic activity (Doyle, 2010; Magruder, 2011) occurring in these virtual spaces, including music and other performance arts, experimental work on sound and immersive experience, and installations that metamorphose as the participants’ avatars move through them. These activities form the basis of the transition skills development that will help young people to manage their career progression.
We decided to use Activity Theory (AT) to inform this work because we think it offers the possibility of systematically integrating the key components of learning in virtual worlds: tool development and mediation; internalisation of social knowledge, and transformations of the structures of human activity as it arises from learning and development (Kaptelinin & Nardi, 2006).
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