Virtual Learning Environments for a New Teaching Methodology

Virtual Learning Environments for a New Teaching Methodology

Iolanda Caponata, Anna Pietra Ferraro
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2426-7.ch004
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The potential and new educational perspectives offered by virtual environments are the arguments with which you want to highlight the opportunity, through the experience of the simulation offered by environments such SecondLife®, to organize and expand the involvement and motivation of pupils through active participation. It will be explained, in detail, how to plan a lesson in SecondLife® after having designed and built a learning environment by creating Holodeck, Teleport, Script, and the use of numerous Tools needed to implement a teaching unit.
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The systematic and widespread use of new technologies developed autonomy to learn what you want, when you want and where you want making the man protagonist of the construction of their own knowledge. The school could no longer ignore the need for change, has had to adapt: ​​from teaching to learning for all, place, free from notional and open to global content limits.

By working with the kids, we have learned that, in teaching, the use of real and handling experience represents an added value to the learning process because the student can organize and expand the social interactions and collaboration, increase its involvement and motivation through active participation.

There was much discussion lately, about the educational potential that virtual worlds may represent for education: they offer a wide range of tools for social interaction, represent an innovation in learning and stimulate the active participation of students.

Il virtual learning environment (VLE) (Martins & Kellermanns, 2004) is a web-based communications platform, that allows students, without limitation of time and place, to access different learning tools, such as program information, course content, teacher assistance, discussion boards, document sharing systems, and learning resources; they can customize the learning pathways and to combine the immediacy of distance learning courses with interactivity and immersion given by the three-dimensional virtual worlds, digital 3D environments, in which users can interact with each other through their avatars and use or create objects, communicate with texts, images, gestures, sounds and three-dimensional representations.

Some speak of a new medium those who simply consider the possible use of VW (Virtual World) as an evolution of the web 2.0.

Barney Dalgarno, associate professor in education and Sub Dean Learning and Teaching in the Faculty of Education at Charles Sturt University, has proposed a scheme useful for evaluating which components in the 3D learning practice can be shared and for what specific purposes. The scheme takes as assumed the constructivist theory and the paradigm of learner-centered in which the individual in the act of reconstructing reality, create and build their own knowledge:

  • Endogenous Elements of Constructivism (for Formal Education): Simulations of difficult places to visit; simulation of microscopic environments; simulation of physical environments containing entities with dynamic behavior; hazardous environments simulations or expensive for skill practice; visual modeling of abstract concepts in 3D; 3D interfaces for complex information structures.

  • Exogenous Elements of Constructivism (for Individual Learning): 3D models or small 3D environments embedded within educational resources; educational resources located within a 3D environment; cognitive Tools 3D

  • Elements of Dialectical Constructivism (Learning by Doing and Mentoring): 3D environments provide a “sense of place” as part of the CMC; distributed 3D environments enable students to collaborate on a remote task; distributed 3D environments allow teachers or experts to provide support.

De Freitas and Veletsianos (De Freitas, S., Veletsianos, G.2010) remind the educational potential of virtual environments by stating that “Compared to traditional ways of learning, the use of virtual worlds - integrating text and voice to the sense of presence - favors more complex social interactions and structured learning experiences that stimulate students and increase their motivation and interactive participation” allow, therefore, to reorganize and expand the social and collaboration interactions, foster greater involvement and motivation through participation; They provide opportunity for creative experimentation and allow you to activate any type of simulation, even those that are not viable in real contexts.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Script: Keywords to program movements and forms of interaction of objects in SecondLife®.

Land: Land that can be purchased from Linden Lab.

Parcel /Plot: Portion of land.

Teleport: Allows you to move from one area of SecondLife®. It can be activated using the Landmark stored in your inventory, using the map, by offering Teleport from one player to another.

Texture: Image of any type used to coat the surface of a virtual object, three-dimensional, or two-dimensional, with a suitable graphics program.

Sandbox: Areas where everyone can freely experiment with your own creations, become familiar with your inventory and store items.

Notecard: Text documents are primarily intended to provide information about objects, places or other. If acquired in its inventory, they are automatically stored in “Notecards” folder; from there you can be moved in the other folders.

Linden Scripting Language: (LSL) is the programming language used by residents SecondLife®. The LSL scripts are able to control the behavior of objects.

Linden Dollar: (Abbreviated L $) is the currency in force in the world of SecondLife® and with it take place most of the transactions carried out within this virtual world.

Resident: And 'a goer, player, national, from SecondLife® inhabitant. Piu 'precisely, Linden Labs defines resident all created in Second Life account, including those of persons who after a first time are no longer came into world. It follows that the resident are much more numerous than there are regular players of SecondLife®, although there is no precise definition of “regular player.”

Client: Is the program that once installed on the computer used to access the virtual universe of SecondLife®. The SecondLife® (also called Viewer, ie viewer or viewer) client is a free download from the download page on AU29: The URL has been redirected to Please verify the URL. .

Snapshot: And 'a photograph taken in SecondLife®, normally using the appropriate button.

Rezz: Indicates the operation of “materialize” an object. The term 'derived from a word used in an old science fiction movie (Tron) in which it was used the word “Derez” (dematerialized), from which “to rez / rezzing”. Generally during SecondLife® an object is rezzed at the time when it is dragged from the inventory on the ground and materializes them.

Prim: Are the basic elements of SecondLife® buildings. If you imagine every object of SL as a building made with bricks, each brick and 'a prim. The prim can have various forms even three-dimensional, be changed (color, elongated, shortened, zoom ...) and assembled together in the construction of objects. The wooden cube that happens to see frequently and 'the prim more widespread.

Landmark: LM location of where you are in or you want to go. Give a Landmark someone will allow him to reach a certain place at any time.

Avatar: Is the virtual alter-ego that represents the user in SL and through which passes any type of action or interaction. The appearance of the avatar can be changed at any time and the operations that the avatar can perform are the following: Walking is accomplished via the arrow keys on the keyboard; Fly is performed by pressing the “fly” contained in the “World” menu or by using the PageUp and PageDown keys. Once airborne move the avatar in all directions through the directional keys on the keyboard; Talk yes is heard by anyone within 20 meters by the avatar (CHAT); Shouting it is heard by anyone within a radius of 100 meters by the avatar (SHOUT) Send instant messages (IM) allows you to send private messages to one another.

Inventory: Contains all the elements and objects at their disposal. These are the items held when creating their own avatar as those that can become many, added later.

MUVE: Multi-user virtual environment.

Linden Lab: is the creator of SecondLife®.

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