The Effects of Second Life on the Motivation of EFL Student Teachers

The Effects of Second Life on the Motivation of EFL Student Teachers

Galip Kartal (Necmettin Erbakan University, Turkey) and Cem Balçıkanlı (Gazi University, Turkey)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7286-2.ch004

Abstract

This study aimed at investigating the effects of using a virtual world, Second Life (SL), on the motivation of Turkish EFL student teachers. First, a 10-week real-life task syllabus was designed and conducted in SL. Focus-group interviews were utilized to enhance the quality of the tasks. Then, the effects of SL on motivation were tracked via qualitative research tools, namely semi-structured interviews, weekly evaluation forms, and observations. The findings showed that SL was effective in increasing motivation of the participating student teachers. The characteristics of the virtual world that were reported to have an effect on motivation were as follows: natural environment, realistic places, anxiety-free environment, excitement, and visual support. This chapter provides possibilities for those who are interested in employing virtual world technologies in foreign/second language teaching and learning and finally describes an investigation into the role of the virtual world in relation to affordances such technologies present across the globe.
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Background

A virtual world is a computer-simulated environment that simulates real or imaginary places. People can participate in learning communities and interact socially with others from around the world in a VW. Real people are represented by avatars, which they can use to interact, collaborate, meet, explore and form social groups. According to Zheng and Newgarden (2011), VWs are “metaverses where avatars interact with one another and with software agents in a three-dimensional space that exists as a metaphor for the real world” (p. 31). Real or physical world are simulated in these environments. Some of the well-known VWs are Active Worlds, Croquet, Open Sim, Quest Atlantis, and World of Warcraft and Second Life (hereafter SL). These various VWs were designed for different purposes, and different classifications have been suggested to describe them (de Freitas, 2008; Warburton, 2009). Wagner and Ip (2009) categorize VWs by considering their nature and purposes, and describe them as “immersive, three-dimensional (3D), multimedia, multi-person simulation environments, where each participant adopts an alter ego and interacts with the world in real time” (p. 250). Residents of these environments can move throughout the world with ease by teleporting. As real people are represented by avatars, VWs allow interaction despite being separated by some distance in real life (Bartle, 2004).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Second Life (SL): A commonly used 3D virtual world owned by Linden Lab and started in 2003.

Task-Based Language Teaching and Learning (TBLT): Using specific tasks to accomplish something by using the target language. For example, checking-in at an airport or ordering a meal at a restaurant.

Avatar: 3D representation of a person who uses the virtual world.

Virtual World (VW): A three-dimensional online space where users can interact with one another. Users can use avatars to walk, run, fly, and teleport.

Web 2.0 Tools: Interactive and collaborative tools and applications in which users can create and share content such as blogs, wikis, podcasts, and virtual worlds.

Multi-User Virtual Environments (MUVE): Online virtual environments in which residents can interact with digital content and with others.

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