A MUVEing Success: Design Strategies for Professional Development in the Use of Multi-User Virtual Environments and Educational Games in Science Education

A MUVEing Success: Design Strategies for Professional Development in the Use of Multi-User Virtual Environments and Educational Games in Science Education

Shannon Kennedy-Clark, Kate Thompson
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2670-6.ch002
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The chapter will explain the role of scenario-based MUVES and educational games in science education and will present both the benefits for students and the challenges of using these forms of technology in a classroom setting. This chapter presents the findings of two case studies on the use of a scenario-based Multi-User Virtual Environments (MUVE) in science education. The chapter will consider strategies for designing professional development programs for teachers and pre-service teachers to enhance both the teachers’ skills and their confidence in using and designing classroom activities suitable for MUVEs and educational games in science inquiry learning.
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Background To Game-Based Learning

Recent research that has been identified as containing aspects of game-based learning has broadened the concept of a definition of game-based learning and has resulted in the articulation of dimensions or common factors identified by practitioners and researchers. The term game-based learning is often used simultaneously with terms such as ‘serious’ games, educational games, and virtual learning environments. However, before moving ahead this chapter it is worthwhile to clarify exactly what these terms means so as to distinguish what a scenario-based MUVE is and what it is not.

Game-based learning is the use of a computer-based game, also called a video game, in an educational context (Gee & Shaffer, 2010; Watson, Mong, & Harris, 2011). Game-based learning can incorporate the use of Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) games, such as Civilization III® (Squire, 2004). The use of the term ‘game’ or ‘serious game’ is often used in this context as the technology used in virtual environments is often drawn from gaming technology, and ‘game’ is also a user friendly term in that a member of the general public can identify with the concepts of online gaming. This research will avoid the use of the term game to describe Virtual Singapura as this environment does not engage the use of features such as scores, which are identifying markers of ‘game.’ Moreover, as Squire (2007) explains, the term ‘serious’ is also part of a branding schemes for commercial purposes. McKerlich and Anderson (2007) in their research into Second Life in educational settings clarify that the terms ‘game’ and MUVE should not be used interpedently indicating that MUVEs are not games but are neutral, changeable environments, whose purpose may not be to entertain but may be for education or business. Therefore, this chapter will differentiate between a MUVE and a game where necessary. However, for the purpose of the introduction the term game will be used as much of the current literature does not distinguish between the different forms.

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