How Are Australian and New Zealand Higher Educators Using 3D Immersive Virtual Worlds in Their Teaching?

How Are Australian and New Zealand Higher Educators Using 3D Immersive Virtual Worlds in Their Teaching?

Mark J.W. Lee (Charles Sturt University, Australia), Barney Dalgarno (Charles Sturt University, Australia), Sue Gregory (University of New England, Australia), Lauren Carlson (Charles Sturt University, Australia) and Belinda Tynan (University of Southern Queensland, Australia)
Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 20
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4205-8.ch013
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Abstract

Numerous papers have been published reporting on specific applications of 3D immersive virtual worlds in higher education, but there have been few attempts to systematically analyse and document views, experiences and applications across the sector. Presented in this chapter are selected results and findings from a questionnaire (n = 117), which was administered as part of a DEHub-funded scoping study of the use of 3D immersive virtual worlds in Australia and New Zealand for learning and teaching in distance/online, face-to-face and blended settings. The overall research design of the scoping study is discussed, followed by selected information from the questionnaire responses about the 100 subjects in which the technology was reported to have been used. This includes statistics on the subject levels, discipline areas, delivery modes, virtual world platforms used and whether the virtual world-based tasks were compulsory and/or assessable. Finally, the chapter reports on data collected from a subset of the respondents who provided more detailed information about their subjects in a number of areas, namely the nature of the in-world activities undertaken by students, the funding and support obtained for the initiative, whether dedicated development was carried out, views on the most successful aspects and the problems encountered.
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Background And Literature Review

Virtual reality applications allowing humans to experience and interact within synthetic digital environments have been in existence for more than 25 years (Collins, 2008). Yet it has only been in the last five to 10 years that we have seen a renaissance in this area and an intensification of interest in educational uses of the technology. Perhaps this is due in part to the rise in ubiquity of multimedia-capable desktop PCs with broadband Internet connections and the subsequent growth in popularity of the current generation of massively multi-user 3D immersive virtual worlds (Dalgarno & Lee, 2010). The definition of the term ‘3D immersive virtual worlds’ proposed by Lee is the one adopted for the purposes of the present chapter and for the scoping study project at large:

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