Digital Virtual Communities in Metaverse

Digital Virtual Communities in Metaverse

Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 21
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6351-0.ch010
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This chapter discusses the process of forming Digital Virtual Communities in the Metaverse. The authors present and discuss subtopics like “Communities: Historical and Concept Aspects and Characteristics,” “Digital Virtual Learning Communities,” “Digital Virtual Learning and Practice Communities,” “Digital Virtual Learning and Practice Communities in Metaverses.” As a main conclusion, it is possible to say that another perspective and tendency for Digital Virtual Communities of Learning and Practice lies in the nomadic-hybrid-multimodal Digital Virtual Communities of Learning and Practice, which means they use different technologies of any kind, including games and simulations in fixed or mobile devices at any time and space, in coexistence with spaces of action and interaction of the physical world face. Thus, it is possible to say that the current generation lives, collaborates, inhabits, co-inhabits, and inhabits-and-co-inhabits new spaces, made of and in the communities created, not living in one space, in one community, in one world and one universe.
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The technological changes, which have been happening for some time, have not only changed ways of learning, but also, and more usually, the ways of social gathering, professionality and work, creating new radical phenomenology. (Malizia, 2012, p.25)

The evolution of digital technological gadgets, mainly mobile ones: the broadening of network connections, mainly wireless; the variety of apps enabling all-to-all communication, related to people’s communication needs, interaction, being together, making changes, sharing ideas, knowledge and projects, have contributed to the construction of Digital Virtual Communities1, of all natures, at any time and space.

This reality is the case both in the formal educational sphere, in socially recognized institutions; as well as in non-formal education, in companies and Non-Governmental Organizations. They arise, mainly due to to the increasing necessity for updating, and training throughout life, as well as the acknowledgment that many of a subject’s learning needs are unlikely to be fulfilled through formative processes, offered in the logic of “courses”, with a linear and strict organization, previously planned and developed in the same way for everyone, simultaneously.

It is within this context that Digital Virtual Communities of Learning and Practice are constituted as a new way of social organization and they contribute to changing the way in which the subject relates himself to information, learns and generates knowledge, being the object of investigation by several researchers, among them the Spanish sociologist Castells (1999, 2003, 2013). For the author, the informational way of development present in those communities can contribute to the rise of a new economy of knowledge.

In the scope of metaverse technologies, the constitution of Digital Virtual Communities of Learning and Practice is empowered and the feeling of belonging to the community is intensified by the subject’s digital virtual presence, through the avatar. Through the avatar he interacts in 3D digital virtual worlds and with the other subjects, also represented by avatars, by the combination of textual, oral, gestural and graphic languages, configuring a social presence, favoring a higher feeling of presentiality and immersion2.

In this chapter we shed a light on conceptual and historical aspects, as well as on the basic characteristics that make up a community. We conceptualize Digital Virtual Communities, discuss Digital Virtual Communities of Learning and Practice, and finally Learning and Practice Digital Virtual Communities in Metaverses, along with our conclusions.


Communities: Historical And Conceptual Aspects And Characteristics

Before we begin the discussion of Digital Virtual Communities it is crucial to understand the concept of community. The idea of community leads us to the feeling of belonging, identification, sharing of common objects, collaboration, cooperation, joined forces, strong bounds that constitute the reciprocity of actions and interactions for a “common good”.

According to Schlemmer (2012), the term community originates from the Latin word communitate, meaning the quality of that which is common, congregation. This term is used to refer to any type of social gathering or social aggregation, and as a synonym of society, social system, social organization, social group of different natures, such as neighborhood community, religious community, scientific community, indigenous community, afro-descendent community, gamers community, among many others. It is through these that we try to explain phenomena that can be constructed from a geographically marked place, or other elements that refer to common identity from a certain group of people.

So, community is polysemic concept, and has been widely studied by theorists from different areas of knowledge. According to the area in which it is used, it acquires greater accuracy regarding the characteristics of a community; in others it opens spaces for specifications that give the concept a certain plasticity.

In common usage, the term is used to name a group of people that live spatially (geographically) close to each other, have objectives in common and similar and complementary interests, and share the same set of rules, history and culture.

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