Language Teaching in 3D Virtual Worlds With Machinima: Reflecting on an Online Machinima Teacher Training Course

Language Teaching in 3D Virtual Worlds With Machinima: Reflecting on an Online Machinima Teacher Training Course

Michael Thomas (University of Central Lancashire, UK) and Christel Schneider (CSiTrain, Germany)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8179-6.ch033

Abstract

This article is based on findings arising from a large, two-year EU project entitled “Creating Machinima to Enhance Online Language Learning and Teaching” (CAMELOT), which was the first to investigate the potential of machinima, a form of virtual filmmaking that uses screen captures to record activity in immersive 3D environments, for language teaching. The article examines interaction in two particular phases of the project: facilitator-novice teacher interaction in an online teacher training course which took place in Second Life and teachers' field-testing of machinima which arose from it. Examining qualitative data from interviews and screen recordings following two iterations of a 6-week online teacher training course which was designed to train novice teachers how to produce machinima and the evaluation of the field-testing, the article highlights the pitfalls teachers encountered and reinforces the argument that creating opportunities for pedagogical purposes in virtual worlds implies that teachers need to change their perspectives to take advantage of the affordances offered.
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2. Review Of The Research

3D Virtual learning environments are multi-user spaces that offer teachers and learners new ways of interacting and collaborating (Bell, 2009). When utilised in a pedagogical context, virtual environments such as Second Life (SL) or OpenSim (OS) can serve as an inspiring educational learning space for creating formal and informal learning (Panichi & Deutschmann, 2012). Compared with other 3D virtual environments, Warburton (2009) considers SL as the most popular, even though the number of users has declined in recent years and massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPG), such as World of Warcraft have emerged as popular alternatives. In this context, the creation of machinima – or short user-generated video recordings of on-screen content from the virtual world or game – have become very popular.

According to Ng (2016), machinima are highly diverse and can include news, reviews, gameplay videos, gaming tips and tricks, story-telling, and drama. In the context of this paper, 3D virtual worlds (VWs) are defined in a more formal, structured way, as participants typically arrange to meet at a specific time and location in order to take part in planned educational events (Panichi & Deutschmann, 2012). 3D VWs provide teachers and learners with a variety of opportunities to experience and experiment with their creative skills and develop responsibility for their own learning process (Ferguson, 2011). Furthermore, VWs allow learners to attempt and complete tasks that may have been impossible or too dangerous to achieve in non-virtual environments (Falconer, 2014).

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