At the Intersection of Learning: The Role of the Academic Library in 3D Environments

At the Intersection of Learning: The Role of the Academic Library in 3D Environments

Nita J. Matzen (Appalachian State University, USA), Louisa Ochoa (Appalachian State University, USA) and Geraldine Purpur (Appalachian State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0011-9.ch708
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Academic libraries face challenges in meeting the information literacy needs of their off-campus students and providing comparable experiences as recommended by the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL). One approach to this dilemma is for the academic library to be an integral component of a 3D immersive virtual learning environment. This chapter proposes a conceptual framework that portrays the interplay of the key elements to consider when understanding the role of a 3D immersive virtual academic library. These key elements, including “library as place,” presence/co-presence, the 3D environment, Presence Pedagogy (P2), and planned and serendipitous interactions intersect to enable the development of communities of practice and further learning. Examples from a 3D immersive virtual academic library are provided to demonstrate application of the framework.
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Over nine years ago, Instructional Technology faculty at Appalachian State University developed the Appalachian Educational Technology Zone (AET Zone) 3D immersive virtual environment. As this faculty was exploring a web-based delivery of their program, they were guided by the Reich College of Education conceptual framework, referenced in Chapter 1.

The faculty determined that the commonly used web-based classroom management platforms more closely resembled a traditional lecture style environment. This did not align with the college’s social constructivist framework. These platforms also did not support the necessary interaction, communication, and collaboration thought to create deep and meaningful learning. Therefore, the faculty decided to develop a 3D immersive virtual world using the ActiveWorlds platform. The environment, known as the AET Zone, has been enhanced by the addition of Web 2.0 tools such as VOIP, wikis, and blogs. Since that time, numerous distance education graduate programs of study including instructional technology, library science, school administration, and higher education currently use this protected environment as well as a new Teleplace world. An academic library was part of the initial AET Zone and now occupies a space in “The Commons”, the initial entry portal to the AET Zone where resources are available that are common to all programs of study (Purpur & Ochoa, 2008). A similar library is being constructed in a Teleplace environment. Both libraries are staffed by academic librarians. More detailed descriptions of the AET Zone 3D virtual immersive learning environment are provided in other literature (Bronack, Riedl, & Tashner, 2006).

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