The Use of Avatars and Virtual Worlds for Learning

The Use of Avatars and Virtual Worlds for Learning

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-543-8.ch011
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Abstract

Virtual environments (VEs) can be immersive (IVE) or collaborative (CVE). Networked collaborative virtual environments (NCVEs) connect participants in real time via a network. Each type of VE presents opportunities to use different combinations of technologies to design engaging learning experiences, especially using avatars. Avatars are used as forms of self-representation for students as well as instructors. Anonymity enables users to alter their identities and interact in new ways through transformed social interactions. Advancements in technology continue to humanize avatars, thus changing their role in the VE and also changing the role of the instructor.
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Objectives

  • Define virtual environments, immersive virtual environments, collaborative virtual environments and networked virtual environments.

  • Define transformed social interaction and explore its implications in cyber education.

  • Identify the challenges of networked individualism.

  • Define and discuss the Proteus Effect.

  • Explore how social awareness impacts learning in virtual worlds.

  • Discuss the possible implications of the changing role of the avatar and how this new role will also impact the role of the instructor.

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Background

Virtual environments may improve the way knowledge is transferred through digitally mediated communications. Collaborative and immersive virtual environments that use current and future technologies provide new delivery methods which frame concepts in real world scenarios. VEs have the natural propensity of transforming interactions. As the social dynamics within the VE change, the traditional learning experience evolves into a more engaging one.

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