Creating Active Learning Spaces in Virtual Worlds

Creating Active Learning Spaces in Virtual Worlds

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2255-3.ch685
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Student learning depends on the ability to create, reflect on experiences, construct understanding, generate rules, and make sense of experiences (Piaget, 1973; Anderson & Krathwohl, 2000; Bruner, 2007). Building on this constructivist perspective, a crucial component of dynamic interdisciplinary studies is problem-based learning, an educational approach that offers the potential to help students develop flexible understanding learning skills. Problem-based learning can also be an effective method for improving classroom engagement (Ahlfeldt, Mehta, & Sellnow, 2005; Duch, Groh, & Allen, 2001). Students learning by solving problems must understand and apply concepts while becoming proficient at new skills. They collaborate to identify what they need to learn in order to solve a problem. They engage in self-directed learning, apply their new knowledge to the problem, and reflect on what they learned as well as the effectiveness of the strategies employed. Rather than simply lecturing and testing students on what was said in lecture, instructors facilitate the learning process by guiding, monitoring, and supporting (Vygotsky, 2006), helping students develop flexible knowledge, successful problem-solving skills, self-directed learning skills, effective collaboration skills, and intrinsic motivation (Hmelo-Silver, 2004).

Key Terms in this Chapter

OpenSimulator: An open-source multi-platform, multi-user three-dimensional application server.

Second Life: A three-dimensional virtual world where every avatar is a real person and every place is created by residents.

Virtual World: Representation in an artificial system or a part of reality.

Virtual Reality: A computer-simulated recreation of a real-world environment that allows users to more fully immerse themselves in the simulation.

Visual Understanding Environment: An open-source tool for managing and integrating digital resources in support of teaching, learning and research; it provides a flexible visual environment for structuring, presenting, and sharing digital information.

Digital Game: An electronic creation, recreation, or adaptation of a game; a type of play activity where the participants agree upon a set of rules that they follow and is decided by luck, skill, or strength.

Interdisciplinary Studies: Learning that focuses on questions, problems, and topics too complex or too broad for a single discipline or field to encompass adequately. These studies thrive on making connections among seemingly exclusive domains.

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