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Collaborating to Learn: Designing and Building 3D Immersive Virtual Learning Environments for Exploring STEM Concepts in Middle School

Copyright © 2011. 15 pages.
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DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61692-825-4.ch007|
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MLA

Matzen, Nita J., William Edward Roberts, Penny Barker and Julie Marklin. "Collaborating to Learn: Designing and Building 3D Immersive Virtual Learning Environments for Exploring STEM Concepts in Middle School." Virtual Immersive and 3D Learning Spaces: Emerging Technologies and Trends. IGI Global, 2011. 123-137. Web. 21 Dec. 2014. doi:10.4018/978-1-61692-825-4.ch007

APA

Matzen, N. J., Roberts, W. E., Barker, P., & Marklin, J. (2011). Collaborating to Learn: Designing and Building 3D Immersive Virtual Learning Environments for Exploring STEM Concepts in Middle School. In S. Hai-Jew (Ed.), Virtual Immersive and 3D Learning Spaces: Emerging Technologies and Trends (pp. 123-137). Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference. doi:10.4018/978-1-61692-825-4.ch007

Chicago

Matzen, Nita J., William Edward Roberts, Penny Barker and Julie Marklin. "Collaborating to Learn: Designing and Building 3D Immersive Virtual Learning Environments for Exploring STEM Concepts in Middle School." In Virtual Immersive and 3D Learning Spaces: Emerging Technologies and Trends, ed. Shalin Hai-Jew, 123-137 (2011), accessed December 21, 2014. doi:10.4018/978-1-61692-825-4.ch007

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Abstract

STEM and ICT Instructional Worlds: The 3D Experience (STEM-ICT 3D) is funded by the National Science Foundation ITEST program. The project proposes to translate the success of earlier projects and reaches toward a model of implementing the use of 3D virtual immersive environments that can be replicated with other middle schools over time. STEM-ICT 3D is intended to inspire middle school students to pursue studies and careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), as well as prepare students with the skills necessary to succeed in STEM education and careers. This chapter presents an applied case study that describes the design of the project, examines the first phases of implementation, and explores the use of students as technical experts collaborating with teachers, the pedagogical experts, to build 3D virtual worlds for middle school instruction.
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Introduction

How can K-12 teachers successfully implement the use of 3D immersive virtual environments into instruction? What affect will this environment have on student learning as well as change the way that students learn science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) material? Online environments have become more complex due to higher bandwidth availability and new technology including the evolution of social networking sites such as My Space and Facebook, massive multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) such as the World of Warcraft, and virtual worlds such as Second Life. Despite evidence that today’s K-12 students are actively engaged in the use of virtual environments, typically in a non-school leisure environment, there has been little effort to explore the role such settings can play in teaching, learning and collaboration. STEM and ICT Instructional Worlds: The 3D Experience (STEM-ICT 3D) is a National Science Foundation Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) strategies project that seeks to address this need.

STEM-ICT 3D is an initiative of the Carolinas Virtual World Consortium composed of Appalachian State University and Clemson University in partnership with Davie and Catawba County Schools in North Carolina, and Oconee and Pickens County Schools in South Carolina, the Appalachian State University Mathematics and Science Education Center (MSEC), North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (NCDENR), and Teleplace, Inc. The project is intended to inspire middle school students to pursue studies and careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) – particularly information and communication technology (ICT) fields - as well as prepare students with the skills necessary to succeed in STEM education and careers. STEM-ICT 3D incorporates a series of activities that provide an engaging, safe environment for middle school students and teachers to explore STEM concepts through a unique approach where students, serving as the technical experts, collaborate with their teachers to develop an inquiry-based learning project for use in a 3D immersive virtual environment.

The objective of this chapter is to present an applied case study that describes the design of STEM-ICT 3D, examines the implementation, and explores the use of students as technical experts collaborating with teachers, the pedagogical experts, to build 3D virtual worlds for middle school instruction. The background of the project including the literature and research that contributed to the conceptualization of the program will be covered first, followed by a description of the student and student/teacher workshops. An overview of the Presence Pedagogy framework presented to the teachers for consideration in their instructional development will be discussed and a description of the 3D virtual worlds that were created will be provided. Finally, a discussion of student and teacher perceptions of the workshops, and successes, will point to future research and next steps for the project and broadening its impact.

Background Of The Stem-Ict 3D Project

Faculty in the Leadership and Educational Studies department at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina (USA) developed the AETZone more than eight years ago. A recipient of the 2006 Campus Technology Innovators: Virtual and Immersive Learning award, the AETZone provides a protected 3D virtual environment for graduate programs of study including instructional technology, library science, school administration, and higher education. The interdisciplinary design of this virtual world for graduate education allows faculty to create and pilot best practices for online learning environments. For those who are interested, a more detailed description of the AETZone 3D virtual immersive learning environment is provided in other literature (Bronack, Riedl, & Tashner, 2006).

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Complete Chapter List

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Table of Contents
Preface
Shalin Hai-Jew
Chapter 1
Gavin McArdle, Bianca Schön, Michela Bertolotto
The need to stimulate and engage students is of paramount importance within any learning scenario. Despite this, recent developments in online... Sample PDF
Assessing the Application of 3D Collaborative Interfaces within an Immersive Virtual University
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Chapter 2
Catherine M. J. Lithgow, Judi L. Davidson Wolf, Zane L. Berge
Multi-user virtual environments (MUVEs), the most popular of which is Second Life, have great potential to provide engaging, interactive content to... Sample PDF
Virtual Worlds: Corporate Early Adopters Pave the Way
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Chapter 3
Laura Benvenuti, Gerrit C. van der Veer
This chapter is not on the technology of Virtual Worlds. The authors discuss the application of a Virtual World as a teaching and learning... Sample PDF
Practice What You Preach: Experiences with Teaching Virtual World Concepts in a Virtual World
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Chapter 4
Tanja Adamus, Nadine Ojstersek, Axel Nattland, Michael Kerres
The chapter describes different possibilities for the design of learning assignments in virtual worlds with a special emphasis on Second Life. For... Sample PDF
Learning Assignments in Virtual Worlds: Theoretical Systematization and Didactical Requirements
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Chapter 5
Ya-Chun Shih
This chapter explores the role of collaborative virtual environments (CVE) in the language learning immersion experience. Despite the lack of strong... Sample PDF
Immersive Language Learning in Collaborative Virtual Environments: The Current Status and Possible Trends
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Chapter 6
Caroline M L Ho
This chapter focuses on investigating participants’ presence in Second Life among students in enactive role play. The interest in the study is on... Sample PDF
Unpacking Strong versus Weak Presence in Second Life Enactive Role Play
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Chapter 7
Nita J. Matzen, William Edward Roberts, Penny Barker, Julie Marklin
STEM and ICT Instructional Worlds: The 3D Experience (STEM-ICT 3D) is funded by the National Science Foundation ITEST program. The project proposes... Sample PDF
Collaborating to Learn: Designing and Building 3D Immersive Virtual Learning Environments for Exploring STEM Concepts in Middle School
$30.00
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Chapter 8
Mark J.W. Lee, Barney Dalgarno
This chapter examines the importance of and possibilities for providing learner support and scaffolding in 3D virtual learning environments designed... Sample PDF
Scaffolding Discovery Learning In 3D Virtual Environments: Challenges and Considerations for Instructional Design
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Chapter 9
R. S. Talab, Hope R. Botterbusch
Topics discussed in this chapter include Generations Y and Z and their acceptance of virtual reality, the increase in the number of virtual worlds... Sample PDF
Legal and Ethical Aspects of Teaching in Selected Social Virtual Worlds: A Review of the Literature
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Chapter 10
Bradley Vender, Otto Borchert, Ben Dischinger, Guy Hokanson, Phillip McClean, Brian M. Slator
One of the World Wide Web Instructional Committee (WWWIC) at North Dakota State University’s (NDSU) long running projects is the Virtual Cell, a... Sample PDF
JavaMOO Virtual Cells for Science Learning
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Chapter 11
Shalin Hai-Jew
In their evolution, virtual worlds have become more persistent. Their three-dimensional (3D) objects are more easily ported and interoperable... Sample PDF
Capitalizing on Immersive Persistence as an Emergent Design Concept (A Position Paper)
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Chapter 12
Kanubhai K. Patel, Sanjay Kumar Vij
A computational model of non-visual spatial learning through virtual learning environment (VLE) is presented in this chapter. The inspiration has... Sample PDF
A Computational Model of Non-Visual Spatial Learning
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Chapter 13
Signing Avatars  (pages 249-267)
Nicoletta Adamo-Villani, Kyle Hayward
The chapter focuses on signing avatars and their potential to improve deaf education. In sections 1 and 2, the authors give an overview of what... Sample PDF
Signing Avatars
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Chapter 14
Miguel A. Garcia-Ruiz, Jayshiro Tashiro, Bill Kapralos, Miguel Vargas Martin
In this chapter, the authors examine different types of serious games for healthcare education and pose some hard questions about what they know and... Sample PDF
Crouching Tangents, Hidden Danger: Assessing Development of Dangerous Misconceptions within Serious Games for Healthcare Education
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Chapter 15
Shalin Hai-Jew
The growing popularization of immersive virtual spaces and simulations has enhanced the ability to “model” various environments, scenarios... Sample PDF
Mitigating Negative Learning in Immersive Spaces and Simulations
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Unintended Negative Learning with an Industrial Simulation
Roger McHaney
Negative Learning and its Mitigation in Army Simulations
Brent A. Anders