Interactive and Collaborative Learning in Virtual English Classes

Lan Li (Department of English, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hung Hom, Hong Kong)
Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 20
EISBN13: 9781466662650|DOI: 10.4018/jcit.2013100102
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This paper reports the tactile learning experience with simulated 3D learning environments in an English Department at a Hong Kong university. With the belief that multimedia instruction and multimedia learning help the learner’s construction of knowledge (Mayer 2005, p.2), sections of Second Life were embedded into three separately taught English subjects. Various student activities were carefully designed, such as knowledge hunting, intercultural communication, peer assessment and assimilation of workplace tasks. In order to find out if students are motivated to use SL and if learning through a virtual environment is more effective than a traditional classroom or a 2D online environment, a questionnaire survey was conducted among the students. Student feedback was also retrieved from the reflective essays on the virtual learning activities. Positive feedback asserts that SL is an interesting, interactive and entertaining environment for both independent and collaborative learning. SL can be used for the placement of teaching materials, the demonstration of certain functions, initiating instant communication and enabling peer assessment in the learning process. The main difficulties according to the students are motivation, complications with technology and time consumption. On the whole, we regard Second Life as having future promise for facilitating linguistic development. However, usage of the platform requires substantial resource investment in order to ensure adequate design of interfaces and appropriate virtual activities for learning purposes.
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