Second Language E-Learning and Professional Training with Second Life®

Second Language E-Learning and Professional Training with Second Life®

Patricia Edwards (University of Extremadura, Spain), Mercedes Rico (University of Extremadura, Spain), Eva Dominguez (University of Extremadura, Spain) and J. Enrique Agudo (University of Extremadura, Spain)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-729-4.ch012
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Web 2.0 technologies are described as new and emerging for all fields of knowledge, including academia. Innovative e-learning formats like on-demand video, file sharing, blogs, Wikis, podcasting and virtual worlds are gaining increasing popularity among educators and students due to their emphasis on flexible, collaborative and community-building features, a promising natural channel for the social constructivist learning theory. This chapter addresses the application of e-learning in university degree programs based on exploiting the practical, intensive and holistic aspects of Second Life® (SL™). Although the specific framework dealt with is English as a foreign language, it seems feasible to assume that the learning processes are equally transferable to other disciplines. In light of the aforementioned premises, the outlook of e-learning 2.0 approaches require action research and shared experiences in order to back up or challenge the claims and expectations of the academic community concerned with best practices in education.
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Introduction: Welcome To Web 2.0

With the arrival of the so-called Web 2.0, a term coined by Tim O’Reilly (2003), windows of opportunity have burst wide open for internet users to participate, share, communicate and collaborate with one another in order to spread knowledge and learning experiences. The second generation web, coupled with a significant increase in users, has been favored by the appearance on the scene of new technologies such as AJAX, FLASH or RUBY, and standards like XML, XHTML, RSS, RDF and CSS. The combination of these new support systems, plus the fact that internet access has reached even the most remote corners of the globe, has generated the development of innovative Web applications. Unlike their predecessors, the latest developments are not merely limited to displaying multimedia information. They also allow users to interact, modify or create more dynamic and enriched information by means of the integration of social networks (nodes where users interact and share knowledge) as well as encourage initiatives in collaborative web projects.

Regardless of the degree of acceptance and use made of Web 2.0 thus far, the availability of a continuum of tools, applications and platforms is progressively leading higher education towards making virtual learning activity a viable option. Although a minority of teachers and learners has adopted interactive learning models to date, these can alter current educational practices. For instance, by substituting teacher-oriented linear learning processes for a methodological approach where students choose their own resources, manage their learning, collaborate with co-learners, communicate and socialize through blogs, wikis, postcasting, chats, learning and knowledge communities, and learning management systems (LMS) like Moodle™ (Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment is a trademark of Open Source Initiative).Worthy of mention is the birth of Sloodle™ (Second Life Object-Oriented Distance Learning Environment), an Open Source Initiative Project application which allows Second Life® and Moodle™-users to share certain tools in this brave new virtual world for educational purposes.

This study is centered on the analysis of user-learner capacity to engage and interact in English as a foreign language for the future professional purposes of engineering students. Total immersion in the specific learning scenario of virtual worlds offers the global experience of exposure to elements of interaction rarely present in the teaching-learning of isolated items of knowledge. Three-dimensional interaction provides the means to create motivating environments for students to learn in context, such as foreign language sessions held in a monumental setting of the target language country (Stevens, 2008). In this type of environment the central and the periphery components of any topic are presented as a whole to learn from. Computer Assisted Language-Learning (CALL) specialists are particularly interested in the emerging concept of the second generation Web. The second language learning prospects it can offer regard students collaboratively constructing knowledge on topics of common interest while using the target language and publishing pupil-authored reflections throughout the entire creative process. Thus, the interactivity promoted by these new technologies is bound to have a profound impact on how CALL is approached. Nonetheless, a crucial question remains – Just how effective is a virtual world for second language learning and professional training?

In order to unfold this desideratum, the aim of the work herein presented lies in examining the potential of various pedagogical aspects and second language learning strategies for professional training purposes with the 3D virtual platform Second Life®, a.k.a. SL™ (an unregistered trademark of Linden Research, Inc.). Of the many motivational resources included in this social networking environment, first is virtual role play represented by the individual learner’s avatar (Figure1). Secondly, preferences in engaging activities and interrelationships with other avatars are analyzed once immersed in the simulated setting (Figure 2). Finally, the effectiveness of the methodological domain for learning foreign languages for professional applications is scrutinized with research instruments, namely, a learner questionnaire and follow-up interviews, Web 2.0 tools and sites in the case study of a target group of participating university students.

Figure 1.

Student Avatar Prototype.

Complete Chapter List

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Table of Contents
George Siemens
Harrison Hao Yang, Steve Chi-Yin Yuen
Chapter 1
Stephen Downes
The purpose of this chapter is to outline some of the thinking behind new e-learning technology, including e-portfolios and personal learning... Sample PDF
Learning Networks and Connective Knowledge
Chapter 2
Ann Dutton Ewbank, Adam G. Kay, Teresa S. Foulger, Heather L. Carter
This chapter reviews the capabilities of social networking tools and links those capabilities to recent legal and ethical controversies involving... Sample PDF
Conceptualizing Codes of Conduct in Social Networking Communities
Chapter 3
Judi Repman, Cordelia Zinskie, Elizabeth Downs
As online learning continues to expand and evolve, new challenges emerge regarding the implementation of Web 2.0 tools and technologies in online... Sample PDF
Fulfilling the Promise: Addressing Institutional Factors that Impede the Implementation of E-Learning 2.0
Chapter 4
Robert Z. Zheng
The growth of online resources and the advancement of Web 2.0 technology are changing the instructional landscape and have significantly impacted... Sample PDF
Designing Dynamic Learning Environment for Web 2.0 Application
Chapter 5
Marshall G. Jones, Stephen W. Harmon
This chapter deals centrally with one emerging aspect of Web 2.0 for education, that of the increasing demand for real time and near real-time... Sample PDF
Instructional Strategies for Teaching in Synchronous Online Learning Environments (SOLE)
Chapter 6
Daniel W. Surry, David C. Ensminger
Higher education is changing in important and profound ways. New technologies are enabling universities to reach new students and create innovative... Sample PDF
University 2.0: Human, Social, and Societal Issues
Chapter 7
Jay Alden
The emergence of Web 2.0 technologies with its emphasis on social networking has presented an opportunity for academic institutions to take... Sample PDF
Use of Wikis to Support Collaboration among Online Students
Chapter 8
Curtis J. Bonk, Mimi Miyoung Lee, Nari Kim, Meng-Fen Grace Lin
A Wikibook is a transformative and disruptive technology that is finding increasing use in schools and higher education institutions. This new form... Sample PDF
Wikibook Transformations and Disruptions: Looking Back Twenty Years to Today
Chapter 9
Chareen Snelson
The recent explosive growth of Web-based video has expanded the repository of free content that can be tapped into for e-learning. Millions of video... Sample PDF
Web-Based Video for e-Learning: Tapping into the YouTubeTM Phenomenon
Chapter 10
Deborah Everhart, Kaye Shelton
Collaborative research teaches students critical knowledge management skills, whether they are undergraduates learning the basics of Web research or... Sample PDF
From Information Literacy to Scholarly Identity: Effective Pedagogical Strategies for Social Bookmarking
Chapter 11
Morris S.Y. Jong, Junjie Shang, Fong-Lok Lee, Jimmy H.M. Lee
VISOLE (Virtual Interactive Student-Oriented Learning Environment) is a constructivist pedagogical approach to empower computer game-based learning.... Sample PDF
VISOLE: A Constructivist Pedagogical Approach to Game-Based Learning
Chapter 12
Patricia Edwards, Mercedes Rico, Eva Dominguez, J. Enrique Agudo
Web 2.0 technologies are described as new and emerging for all fields of knowledge, including academia. Innovative e-learning formats like on-demand... Sample PDF
Second Language E-Learning and Professional Training with Second Life®
Chapter 13
Hyung Sung Park, Young Kyun Baek
The purpose of this chapter is to offer practical ideas and cases for educational use of the Second Life® virtual world with Web 2.0 based... Sample PDF
Empirical Evidence and Practical Cases for Using Virtual Worlds in Educational Contexts
Chapter 14
Sharon Stoerger
Schools based in the United States are trapped in a Henry Ford factory model of education that is focused on high-stakes testing. This model was... Sample PDF
A Pedagogical Odyssey in Three-Dimensional Virtual Worlds: The SECOND LIFE® Model
Chapter 15
Youmei Liu, Shawn McCombs
E-Learning has undergone an amazing metamorphosis: it has changed from the delivery of individualized, static curricular information to the... Sample PDF
Podcasting: A Flexible E-Learning Tool
Chapter 16
Steve Chi-Yin Yuen, Harrison Hao Yang
This chapter provides an overview and development of sense of community and social networking; discusses the potential uses of social networking in... Sample PDF
Using Social Networking to Enhance Sense of Community in E-Learning Courses
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