Eidsvoll 1814: Creating Educational Historical Reconstructions in 3D Collaborative Virtual Environments

Eidsvoll 1814: Creating Educational Historical Reconstructions in 3D Collaborative Virtual Environments

Ekaterina Prasolova-Forland (Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway) and Ole Ørjan Hov (Globalskolen – Norwegian School Online, Norway)
Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2779-6.ch014
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Abstract

3D Collaborative Virtual Environments (CVEs) or virtual worlds have been widely used in educational settings for the purposes of simulation and demonstration of scientific concepts, art and historical events that for practical reasons may be complicated in real-life classrooms. This paper describes an experience of recreating a central event in Norwegian history, adoption of Norwegian constitution at Eidsvoll in 1814, in the virtual world of Second Life. The historical building where this event took place was reconstructed and used as a part of an online history course where Norwegian students residing all over the world could meet at Virtual Eidsvoll, play the role of the members of the Constituent Assembly and pass the constitution. Following the description of the experience with the Virtual Eidsvoll project, the authors conclude with a critical discussion of using 3D CVEs for history education, outlining directions for future work.
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Introduction

In recent years, 3D Collaborative Virtual Environments (CVEs) or virtual worlds have been widely used for supporting learning in different contexts (see e.g., Jennings & Collins, 2008; de Freitas, 2008; Maher et al., 2001; Molka-Danielsen, 2009), ranging from primary education to corporate training. 3D CVEs have been mainly adopted for their potentiality of offering a new space for promoting socialization and communication. Also, 3D virtual worlds offer a rich collaborative arena for social encounters and community building because of their capability to provide a social arena where students and teachers can meet across distances and time zones, which is especially important in today’s globalized society (Hendaoui, 2008; Craven et al., 2001; Maher et al., 2001; Kelton, 2007).

An important part of educational process is knowledge sharing and communication. The virtual space provides occasions for chance encounters and therefore informal communication and an environment where learners can have and share experiences, which is acknowledged as one of the main requirements for learning (Maher et al., 2001). On the longer term, the space also becomes a container of artifacts used by the students for their daily social and educational activities. It can also substitute or complement the physical space normally inhabited by learners. This opens for new possibilities of cooperation among distributed users (Cuddiny et al., 2000; Jakobsson, 2002; Machado et al., 2000; Molka-Danielsen, 2009).

3D CVEs not only provide an additional place for the community using the system, but also a space with a higher degree of flexibility than the physical one. In such an environment one can create and manipulate ‘virtual’ land to create places suitable for current social and learning situations, such as a meeting place for a student group, a lab, a museum or reconstruction of a historical place (Bani et al., 2009; Barret & Gelfgren, 2009). This is usually not possible (or too difficult) in real life. This flexibility is very important because it allows a community to progressively build, structure, and restructure the space according to its evolution (Hudson-Smith, 2002; Schroeder et al., 2001).

This flexibility and freedom of construction led to a wide adoption of 3D CVEs for the purposes of simulation and demonstration of for example scientific concepts (Chemeet, (ActiveWorlds)) and art exhibitions (VanGogh (ActiveWorlds)) that for practical reasons may be complicated in a real-life classroom. 3D CVEs are also extensively used for historical reconstructions and roleplaying, both for entertainment and educational purposes (see e.g., Henry Tudor Lands and Roma (Second Life), Harlem Renaissance (Sosnoski et al., 2006; Bani et al., 2009).

In this paper we describe an experience of recreating a central event in Norwegian history, adoption of Norwegian Constitution at Eidsvoll in 1814, in the 3D virtual world of Second Life (SL). In the year 1814 Norway was about to break out of the union with Denmark, and representatives from most of Norway met to create a new constitution based on the results of the French and American revolutions. This event took place in a building at Eidsvoll, called “Eidsvollsbygningen” (Figure 1).

Figure 1.

Historical Eidsvoll building. Photo by Dale Musselmann available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs license.

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