The Role of Virtual Worlds for Enhancing Student-Student Interaction in MOOCs

The Role of Virtual Worlds for Enhancing Student-Student Interaction in MOOCs

Rosa Reis (Instituto Superior de Engenharia do Porto, Portugal) and Paula Escudeiro (Instituto Superior de Engenharia do Porto, Portugal)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9743-0.ch013
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This theoretical chapter attempts to clarify interaction role in Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCS) and increased emphasis on utilization the virtual worlds, as tools to a constructive process where the learner should be actively involved. An overview of the core concepts of the MOOCs and Virtual Worlds is provided and an explanation of how these environments can be used for helping in creation more authentic learning activities. The chapter presents an interaction model based on collaboration, so as to elucidate the major design differences. In conclusion, we want explore the changing role of formal learning in an era open education, where the Massive Open Online Courses can allow access, in many cases completely free of cost to the learner.
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MOOCs Overview

The development of the Internet and the Information and Communication Technology has enabled the creation of contents, expanding the learning through distance courses, most recently the MOOCs.

The MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses - Open Courses Online Massive) are open courses developed by universities. Given its free nature, they have a large number of student’s subscribers, which are geographically dispersed and not affiliated with the education institution.

The MOOCs appeared in 2008 to describe a particular model of online course developed by George Siemens and Stephen Downes.

This concept has evolved through time. According Vizoso (2013) there are two streams of courses: the cMOOC and xMOOC. The cMOOC uses a participatory and collaborative methodology. These courses coming of the first initiatives of George Siemens are based on the principle of connectivism. In cMOOCs, the participants can have a feeling of disorientation; participation is timely, students are discouraged throughout the course and the participant need to have digital competence. The second current, ie the xMOOC have a more traditional view of knowledge and learning being “the student a duplicator and not a content generator”. In xMOOCs the interaction between the participants is weak: the course is focused on the teacher, the content and the assessment is traditional (MORGADO & SILVA, 2013). In summary, cMOOCs focus on the creation and generation of new knowledge, while xMOOCs aim to duplicate the knowledge to other students, whose education is based on traditional and is more likely to motivate discussions on innovation in higher education (Gaebel, 2013). However, both have the characteristics, systematized in Figure 1.

Figure 1.

Main features of MOOCs (


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