Teaching IT Through Learning Communities in a 3D Immersive World: The Evolution of Online Instruction

Teaching IT Through Learning Communities in a 3D Immersive World: The Evolution of Online Instruction

Richard E. Riedl (Western Carolina University, USA), Regis Gilman (Appalachian State University, USA), John H. Tashner (Appalachian State University, USA), Stephen C. Bronack (Appalachian State University, USA), Amy Cheney (Appalachian State University, USA), Robert Sanders (Appalachian State University, USA) and Roma Angel (Appalachian State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-964-9.ch003
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The development of learning communities has become an acknowledged goal of educators at all levels. As education continues to move into online environments, virtual learning communities develop for several reasons, including social networking, small group task completions, and authentic discussions for topics of mutual professional interest. The sense of presence and copresence with others is also found to be significant in developing Internet-based learning communities. This chapter illustrates the experiences with current learning communities that form in a 3D immersive world designed for education. Faculty at Appalachian State University (ASU) have developed and taught the graduate instructional technology program in an award-winning 3D world setting for several years. Additional ASU faculty and program areas are currently transitioning into this environment. Further, colleagues from major universities in other countries are using this environment for their students to work and to collaborate across time and distance. Telecommunications technologies in education (exposing the graduate students to the breadth of IT experiences and knowledge required), hypermedia, and advanced Web design are examples of ITrelated courses offered in the graduate program. The results of these experiences highlight the efficacy of this tool toward the formation of authentic communities within 3D Internet-based worlds as online distance education environments continue to evolve.

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