Teacher Training in 3D Virtual Worlds: Understanding Immersive Learning for Teaching Practices

Teacher Training in 3D Virtual Worlds: Understanding Immersive Learning for Teaching Practices

Yi Fei Wang (The University of British Columbia, Canada)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2426-7.ch011
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This chapter explores the process of preparing BC teachers in the use of 3D virtual world technologies to design personalized learning and flexible learning environments. It aims to prepare teachers to effectively use 3D virtual worlds as a pedagogical and professional tool to achieve greater educational outcomes. Numerous studies have explored technology and teacher education. But few of them have examined preparing teachers for challenging technologies such as 3D virtual worlds. This chapter provides a practical framework related to technology and teacher education. Looking across the process, we discern teachers' external and internal barriers that may influence teachers' willingness of the use of 3D virtual worlds in education. We argue that both teachers' external barriers and internal barriers are critical to successful technology integration.
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Among ICTs, 3D virtual worlds have been widely used in supporting flexible personalized learning (Compton, Davis, & Correia, 2010; Edirisingha, Nie, Pluciennik, & Young, 2009; Good, Howland, & Thackray, 2008; Omale, Hung, Luetkehans, & J, 2009). 3D virtual worlds distinguish themselves from other types of computer applications by replicating a hypothetical real-life simulation in a graphically rich and dynamic environment (Dalgarno & Lee, 2010; McLellan, 2004; Mennecke, Hassall, & Triplett, 2008; Mikropoulos & Strouboulis, 2004).

Numerous studies explored the beneficial aspects of 3D virtual worlds (Bers, 2001; Brey, 2009; Dalgarno & Lee, 2010) and the effective use of 3D virtual worlds in teaching (Guasch, Alvarez, & Espasa, 2010; Natalie, Kevin, & Kevin, 2014; Storey & Wolf, 2010). However, teaching in these environments has not become mainstream and the numbers of educators using this environment for teaching is in fact decreasing (Gregory et al., 2015). Gregory’s research group (2015) has identified a number of issues to overcome before virtual worlds become a mainstream teaching tool, including technological issues, potential student difficulties, institutional issues and personal perceptions. A number of problems in Dalgarno’s study have been analyzed in relation to integrating virtual worlds into teaching and learning, such as lack of technology support, funding and time, usability and familiarity, equity and ethics, inherent limitations of virtual worlds, acceptance of virtual worlds, and management and planning (Dalgarno, Gregory, Carlson, Lee, & Tynan, 2013).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Technological Pedagogical Knowledge (TPK): Technological skills required for effective teaching with technology.

Presence: The psychological perception of being “there”, within a virtual environment in which the person is immersed.

Immersive Learning Environments: Learning situations that are constructed using a variety of techniques and software tools and distinguished from other learning methods by their abilities to provide learners transformative possibilities created when learners and technologies interact.

Content Knowledge (CK): A field of study.

Technological Content Knowledge (TCK): Knowledge about how technology can be used to provide new ways of teaching content ( Harris et al., 2009 ).

Pedagogical Knowledge (PK): Knowledge about teaching, an understanding of “how particular topics, problems, or issues are organized, presented, and adapted to the diverse interests and abilities of learners” and the ways of “representing and formulating the subject that makes it comprehensible to others” ( Shulman, 1987 , pp. 8-9).

Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK): An understanding of “what makes the learning of specific topics easy or difficult; the conceptions and preconceptions that students of different ages and backgrounds bring with them to the learning of those most frequently taught topics and lessons” ( Shulman, 1986 , p. 9).

Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK): Knowledge of connecting content, pedagogy and technology.

Technology Knowledge (TK): Knowledge of how to use technologies.

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