The Pedagogical Considerations in the Design of Virtual Worlds for Organization Learning

The Pedagogical Considerations in the Design of Virtual Worlds for Organization Learning

C. C. Chou (University of St. Thomas, USA) and Rama Kaye Hart (University of St. Thomas, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-762-3.ch030
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An increasing number of organizations have established presences in Second Life or virtual worlds for organizational learning. The types of activities range from staff training, annual meetings, to leadership development and commercial transactions. This chapter reviews relevant literature on how virtual worlds, especially Second Life, are utilized for organizational learning. The discussions include leveraging the affordances of virtual worlds for learning, integrating design principles of 3D immersive learning, and examining examples of actual workplace learning in virtual worlds. Specific emphasis will be placed on the translation of applicable learning theories into the pedagogical design of virtual worlds. Furthermore, the chapter examines student perspectives of an actual course on immersive learning that took place in Second Life. Student perspectives are summarized in six strands: challenging and informative learning, engagement, activity structures, transformation, collaborative and democratic participation, and new opportunities. The six themes are important factors for designers of 3D learning environments to ensure quality immersive learning experiences.
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Literature Review

To be able to fully utilize the features of 3D virtual worlds, it is important to understand the functionalities of virtual worlds and their unique capabilities that are not present in other media. Since the participants in workplace learning are adults, the pedagogical considerations of 3D learning environments based on adult learning theory could lay the foundation for activity design. In the actual implementation, design strategies that are student-centered and instructionally sound should provide the context for 3D immersive learning. The literature review starts with a general discussion on the affordances of virtual worlds and the capabilities of virtual worlds to support learning. Next, the discussions focus on the pedagogical considerations such as building teams and establishing communities of practice in 3D virtual world learning. Last, the design principles for 3D virtual worlds and actual corporate examples are reviewed.

Key Terms in this Chapter

3D Learning Experience (3DLE): Learning experiences that take place inside 3D learning environments.

Virtual Community of Practice (CoP): Virtual CoPs are characterized by a group of professionals who have shared interests in specific domains joining together in a virtual community to engage in discussion, share resources, or learn about something.

Second Life: A virtual world that was developed by Linden Lab and launched in 2003 and that is accessible from the Internet through a free Second Life or other compatible client.

Metaverses: Three-dimensional virtual worlds in which people interact through avatars in an authentic context with real-world metaphors and that allow learning to take place without the restrictions of the physical locations.

3D Learning Environment: Three-dimensional learning environments that allow participants to represent themselves with an avatar to interact with other avatar and offer opportunities to create authentic learning contexts.

3D Virtual Worlds: Similar to 3D learning environments, 3D virtual worlds allow multiple users to interact with each other for a wide variety of purposes, e.g., meetings, simulation, public relations, e-commerce, games, social interaction, etc.

Virtual Teams: Team members that are geographically dispersed who collaborate virtually with each other for a common goal.

Multi-User Virtual Environment (MUVE): Learning environments that allow multiple learners from different geographical locations to gather in a virtual space for a common set of goals.

3D Immersive Learning: Learning principles that encourage learners to immerse in 3D learning environment through an authentic context and include, but are not limited to, demonstration, simulation, collaborative learning, and communities of practice with a strong emphasis on experiential learning.

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