This chapter will examine the relationship between a constructivist teaching approach and online learning experiences in the Virtual Worlds of Second Life, using a specifically constructed MBA-level course teaching Systems Analysis and Design. A research study was incorporated in the course design to test the Constructivist Learning Design (CLD) model (Gagnon & Collay, 2006) and social (use of individual- vs. group-oriented activities) domains. This chapter will cover: (1) fundamentals of Systems Analysis and Design course; (2) current research of Second Life in education; (3) course design based on CLD models; and (4) research data analysis of course delivery through constructivist learning in Second Life and student learning experiences in the Virtual Worlds.
Information Systems (IS) lie at the heart of many of today’s technological wonders. Without information systems our communications networks, energy systems and even such simple systems as automobiles would not function. Information Systems curricula can be found in disciplines ranging from Geographical Information Systems (GIS) to Health Information Management Systems (HMIS) to Management Information Systems (MIS). A key element of any Information System is the Analysis, Design and Implementation or the system. Most educators in the Information Systems disciplines regard Systems Analysis and Design (SAD) as the critical course for IS students (Avison, Cole, & Guy, 2006; Bajaj, Batra, Hevner, Parsons, & Keng, 2005). The teaching of SAD is affected by many factors such as the instructor’s experience, the profile of the class and the needs of the employers to mention but a few (Harris, Lang, Oates, & Keng, 2006). Technology Mediated Learning (TML) and Distance Education (DE) are emerging as a key method for the delivery of instruction to students. Distance Education is predicted to increase by over 300% in the next 5 years (Moller, Foshay, & Huett, 2008). But at the same time the depth and breadth of research on TML and DE is limited (Alavi & Leidner, 2001). This chapter examines the intersection of the domain of teaching SAD and TML. In particular, it seeks to examine if a Constructivist Learning Theory applies to learning in the Virtual Worlds of Second Life.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Authentic Learning: Conduct learning activities / projects in real life contexts
Information Systems: Computer Systems
Technology Mediated Learning: Technology-supported learning
Virtual Worlds: A computer-based simulated 3D environment where students can interact with each other through avatars in real time
Second Life: A virtual world developed by Linden Lab used as a learning environment in this chapter. It is a computer-based 3D environment where students meet and interact with each other.
Systems Analysis and Design: Software Engineering, Business analysis
Constructivist Learning: Centered learning approach and learners construct new knowledge by doing and experiencing, focusing on critical thinking, deep-level learning
Social Networking: A social structure established through the use of Internet communication technologies by the people who share the same value, vision, task objectives, ideas, etc.
Constructivist Learning Design Model: A design process suggested by Gagnon and Collay to design student learning activities and course content delivery based on constructivist learning