Virtual Spaces for Teaching and Learning

Virtual Spaces for Teaching and Learning

Peter R. Albion (University of Southern Queensland, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-322-7.ch003
OnDemand PDF Download:


Interaction is fundamental to the learning process and game-like 3D online spaces present opportunities for enhancing learning through supporting a richer variety of interaction between learners and content, instructor and peers. Provision of a “low threshold application” for development of learning experiences in such spaces will extend the opportunities for more teachers to arrange learning experiences in virtual spaces. A heuristic that maps the possible variety of learning experiences in virtual spaces is one option for supporting teachers in the design of such experiences.
Chapter Preview


Learning is the result of experience. At a broad level this is true of formal learning that occurs in schools or other educational contexts, of what we learn informally through life experience, and of learning that results from personal reflection. In each case the learner, however understood, is changed in some way through the experience of interaction in the educational setting, with aspects of the world, or with selected ideas. Thus it is fair to say that interaction is fundamental to the learning process (Ertmer & Newby, 1993).

Interaction within formal education is most commonly managed by a teacher who is responsible for orchestrating the variety of resources accessed by the learner. At its simplest this may involve no more than teacher and learner engaged in conversation, but more often it involves the teacher in sequencing a variety of resources and experiences. The work that teachers undertake in planning and implementing a learning environment is made complex by the number of factors that must be attended to and the variety of decisions that must be made, often almost instantaneously in the course of a learning activity. There is no single correct way to assemble a sequence of learning activities, which should be designed to respond to characteristics of the learner, teacher, subject matter, and context including availability of time and other resources. Moreover, the teacher cannot easily judge the effects, especially in the longer term, of the experiences on the learner. For reasons such as these, teaching has been characterized as a wicked problem, one that is complex and ill-structured, in which the problem definition and context is constantly changing and a solution is not clearly right or wrong and may not necessarily be recognized by an observer (Mishra & Koehler, 2007). The work of teachers requires high levels of knowledge and skill that may not be recognized by a lay observer because, in common with experts in other fields, expert teachers make the difficult look easy.

It has long been recognized that teachers must deal with both content, what is to be learned by the learner, and pedagogy, the design of experiences to facilitate learning. The overlap between content and pedagogy is the critical region of teacher activity where knowledge is transformed in ways that support learning (Shulman, 1986). This transformation of knowledge is a complex area of decision making about how pedagogical techniques mesh with the nature of content and the needs and capabilities of the learner. More recently, Mishra and Koehler (2006) recognized that, as teachers work with technology, from traditional paper and chalkboard to current computer-based technologies, a further series of overlaps of domains adds to the complexity of the challenges faced by teachers. Although these ideas have been mostly developed in the context of school education, the principles should be equally applicable at other levels of education.

The interaction that constitutes the experience from which learning results varies in the nature of the stimuli offered to a potential learner. In traditional classroom learning, where teacher and learner are present together, the full range of human communication is available and may be supported by aids such as audio-visual presentations. In other circumstances, communication, and the consequent richness of the learning experience, may be limited as, for example, in traditional distance education by correspondence where the sole means of communication is the written word. Distance educators, aware of the importance of interaction for learning, have welcomed the introduction of technologies that enrich the possibilities for communication (Moore, 1993). However, even as online learning, with its possibilities for more frequent interaction at a distance, has rapidly expanded, concerns have been raised about the lack of authenticity and presence because, for many educators and learners, online spaces seem disembodied and less real than the experience of traditional face-to-face classes (Land & Bayne, 2006). Hence there is growing interest in the educational application of virtual worlds, in which participants are more realistically represented and can engage in a wider range of activity. Working in such virtual spaces will inevitably introduce new challenges and opportunities for teachers and learners.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book:
Editorial Advisory Board
Table of Contents
Rhonda Christensen, Gerald Knezek
Chapter 1
A Simulation Primer  (pages 1-24)
Katrin Becker, James R. Parker
This chapter provides an introduction to digital simulations for those interested in using or designing them for instructional purposes. There has... Sample PDF
A Simulation Primer
Chapter 2
Youngkyun Baek
This chapter expands upon the definition of a simulation with two categories: experiential and symbolic. It discusses the interactive, experiential... Sample PDF
Digital Simulation in Teaching and Learning
Chapter 3
Peter R. Albion
Interaction is fundamental to the learning process and game-like 3D online spaces present opportunities for enhancing learning through supporting a... Sample PDF
Virtual Spaces for Teaching and Learning
Chapter 4
David Williamson Shaffer
Multiculturalism is an essential tool for democratic citizenship in a world made ever more closely interconnected by information technologies. In... Sample PDF
Computers and the End of Progressive Education
Chapter 5
Celina Byers
The desired outcome of instructional game design is to combine the powerful attraction of games and the proven effectiveness of instructional system... Sample PDF
Combining Instructional Design and Game Design
Chapter 6
Helyn Gould, Michael Hughes, Paul Maharg, Emma Nicol
Game-based learning and simulation is a powerful mode of learning, used by industries as diverse as aviation and health sciences. While there are... Sample PDF
The Narrative Event Diagram: A Tool for Designing Professional Simulations
Chapter 7
David Gibson
In order for a digital simulation to provide an artificial teaching environment there needs to be a computational model of the act of teaching... Sample PDF
Modeling Classroom Behaviors in Software Agents
Chapter 8
Sara Dexter
The new technology-enhanced conception of assessment stands in contrast to the traditional view of assessments as tests of a learner’s ability to... Sample PDF
Design Principles for Interactive Learning Environments with Embedded Formative Assessments
Chapter 9
Penny deByl
Three-dimensional virtual learning environments provide students with pedagogic experiences beyond traditional two-dimensional textbook and Web page... Sample PDF
Hybrid 2D/3D Development of Interactive Simulations
Chapter 10
Len Annetta, James Minogue, Shawn Holmes, Meng-Tzu Cheng, Elizabeth Folta, Marta Klesath
This chapter will provide concrete examples of how a research group at North Carolina State University is using case studies as the... Sample PDF
Using Case Studies as the Narrative to Game Design and Development
Chapter 11
Mark Girod
Teacher education is currently facing pressures to demonstrate efficacy in preparing teachers who can affect P-12 student learning gains. Teacher... Sample PDF
Exploring Teacher Problem Solving Using Simulation
Chapter 12
Donguk Cheong, Bokyeong Kim
A computer simulation for improving teaching is expected to remove the potential negative effects on real students while creating an environment... Sample PDF
A Simulation for Improving Teachers' Motivational Skills
Chapter 13
Damián Piccolo, Anna Oskorus
Nearly half of all new teachers leave the field of education within the first five years (Ingersoll, 2003; Alliance for Excellent Education, 2005).... Sample PDF
Designing Commercial Simulations for Teachers
Chapter 14
Scott J. Warren, Richard A. Stein
This chapter discusses the design and use of simulated teaching experiences contextualized through role-play in a multi-user virtual environment as... Sample PDF
Simulating Teaching Experience with Role-Play
Chapter 15
Bokyeong Kim, Donguk Cheong
This chapter presents the theory, structure, and development process used in designing a teaching simulation. simClass was designed to help teachers... Sample PDF
simClass: Simulate Your Class Before You Teach
Chapter 16
Karen Schrier, Charles K. Kinzer
Teacher education that emphasizes the understanding and assessment of ethics can support the creation of an ethically aware and critically engaged... Sample PDF
Using Digital Games to Develop Ethical Teachers
Chapter 17
Shelby P. Morge
Recently adopted 21st Century goals stress the importance of preparing students for a globally competitive society by providing them with... Sample PDF
Modeling in the Classroom Using Squeak Etoys
Chapter 18
Mary Jo Dondlinger, Scott Joseph Warren
This chapter discusses Alternate Reality Games (ARGs) as simulated experiences, and presents the conceptual framework that informed the design and... Sample PDF
Alternate Reality Games as Simulations
Chapter 19
Caitlin Kelleher
Self-directed, open-ended projects can enable students to pursue their own interests and lead to deep learning. However, it can be difficult to... Sample PDF
Supporting Open-Ended Programming Assignments
Chapter 20
Kay Kyeongju Seo, Aimee Byk, Chris Collins
How can one bring cognitive apprenticeship into the virtual world? This chapter addresses how to construct a 3D online digital environment that... Sample PDF
Cognitive Apprenticeship Inspired Simulations
Chapter 21
Jae Yeob Jung, Hyung Sung Park
The purpose of this chapter is to explore how learning, by making games, can provide opportunities for higher-order thinking such as problem... Sample PDF
Learning by Doing via Game Making
Chapter 22
Christian Sebastian Loh, Jae Hwan Byun
Game Modification, or Modding, is a unique and valuable way of learning with digital games as well as a means to earn beginners’ stripes in the game... Sample PDF
Modding Neverwinter Nights Into Serious Games
Chapter 23
Teresa Franklin, David Chelberg, Chang Liu
Virtual environments are a topic of discussion for many in the business and commerce fields. However, K-12 school systems have been slow to embrace... Sample PDF
Changing Middle School Science through STEAM
Chapter 24
David Gibson
This chapter discusses how a teaching simulation can embody core characteristics of a complex system. It employs examples of specific frameworks and... Sample PDF
Complex Systems Concepts in Simulations
About the Contributors