Virtual Worlds as a Learner Centered Environments for Spatial Reasoning

Virtual Worlds as a Learner Centered Environments for Spatial Reasoning

Hyungsung Park
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-762-3.ch026
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According to generalized usage of computer technology in modern society, computer usage in learning activities is increasing. Textual and audiovisual learning materials have been developing step by step into more structured material. The ability to clearly understand visual data is an important function of higher achievement in the learning process. Thus, understanding of visual data related to spatial ability through computer-mediated interaction stimulates human spatial ability. The purpose of this chapter is to show the practical usage of virtual worlds for learner-centered educational environments that provide room to improve the learner’s higher-order thinking, such as spatial reasoning, via learning by doing. The focus here is on introducing a new concept about the role of the virtual worlds learning environment.
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Virtual World, Optimal Environment For Learner-Centered Learning

In recent years, interest in virtual learning has been increasing, because of tremendous advances in information and technology. These will have an important impact on future learning environments, and at the same time they will bring about significant changes to education. Virtual worlds have been developed that suit these arising needs. They promise to be highly useful in the practice of many scholarly works and everyday activities (Laurel, 1986, p. 296). The virtual world can be considered a collaborative learning environment (Shih & Yang, 2008). In particular, three-dimensional virtual worlds attempt to attain “worlds than can be experienced from inside, and manipulated” (Taubes, 1994, p. 70). Virtual worlds thus allow people to enter imitation worlds and act in those worlds as they might act in a similar setting in the real world.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Virtual Worlds: Virtual world is an emerging computer interface that strives to make simulations believable and realistic. A virtual world in this paper looks like the Second Life®world that based on Web 2.0, including participants, sharing, and collaborating.

Learner-Centered Learning: Learner-centered learning is an approach to education focusing on the needs of the learner, rather than those of others involved in the educational process, such as teachers and administrators.

Spatial reasoning: Spatial reasoning abilities have included tasks such as mental rotation of shapes, solving mazes, imagining the folding and unfolding of object, and finding hidden figures.

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