Towards Open-Source Virtual Worlds in Interdisciplinary Studies

Towards Open-Source Virtual Worlds in Interdisciplinary Studies

Reneta D. Lansiquot
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5888-2.ch258
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Constructivism posits that knowledge is created in the mind of the learner by reflecting on experiences, constructing understanding, generating rules, and making sense of experiences (Bruner, 1990/2007; Piaget, 1973). Building on this perspective, cognitive flexibility theory focuses on the ability of a learner to restructure knowledge in adaptive responses to situational demands, thus focusing on the transfer of knowledge and skills beyond an initial learning situation (Spiro, Feltovich, Jacobson, & Coulson, 1991).

A crucial component of dynamic interdisciplinary learning is problem-based learning (PBL), an instructional approach that offers the potential to help students develop flexible understanding learning skills. PBL can also be an effective method for improving classroom engagement (Ahlfedt, Mehta, & Sellnow, 2005; Duch, Groh, & Allen, 2001). Students learning through the experience of solving problems can acquire both content strategies and thinking strategies. In the process of facilitated problem solving, students collaborate to identify what they need to learn in order to solve a problem. They engage in self-directed learning, apply their new knowledge to the problem, and reflect on what they learned and the effectiveness of the strategies employed. Instructors facilitate the learning process by guiding, monitoring, and supporting (Vygotsky, 2006), helping students develop flexible knowledge, successful problem-solving skills, self-directed learning skills, effective collaboration skills, and intrinsic motivation (Hmelo-Silver, 2004).

Key Terms in this Chapter

OpenSimulator: An open source multi-platform, multi-user three-dimensional application server.

Interdisciplinary Studies: Learning that focuses on questions, problems, and topics too complex or too broad for a single discipline or field to encompass adequately; such studies thrive on drawing connections between seemingly exclusive domains.

Open Source: Computer software, typically developed in a public, collaborative manner, with its source code made available to study, change and distribute to anyone and for any purpose.

Second Life: A 3D world created where every avatar is a real person and every place is built by people.

Visual Understanding Environment: An open-source project focused on creating flexible tools for managing and integrating digital resources in support of teaching, learning and research. VUE provides a flexible visual environment for structuring, presenting, and sharing digital information.

Virtual World: Representation in an artificial system (e.g., a computer) of a part of reality.

Drupal: An open-source content management platform used to power websites and applications. It is built, used, and supported by an active and diverse community.

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