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Learning spaces in virtual worlds: bringing our distance students home

Learning spaces in virtual worlds: bringing our distance students home Purpose – Distance learning (DL) programmes are becoming increasingly popular in higher education. Overcoming feelings of isolation that may occur due to the reduced support available, the few possibilities of social interaction and the non-existent campus atmosphere in online courses, have become one of the major challenges of designers and instructors of DL programmes. The paper aims to discuss these issues. Design/methodology/approach – This paper provides an example of how the authors can create and use virtual world (VW) learning spaces that not only match the face-to-face learning experience, but also enhance it. Innovation@UWE Island in Second Life, home of the MA education in virtual worlds, is an example of pedagogical innovation that capitalises on what VWs have to offer to social aspects of teaching and learning. In this programme the authors use a three-dimensional virtual space to provide postgraduate students – physically located in diverse geographical areas of the world – with a sense of community and connectedness that matches the sense of belonging that often accompanies the on-campus learning experience. Findings – The paper provides examples of students engaging in an environment where traditional conceptions of both “teaching” and “learning” do not apply, where the four-walled classroom is not the only setting where learning happens, where everyone in the group can potentially be an instructor or a peer, an expert or a novice, and learn from each other in a meaningful way. Originality/value – This paper introduces the rationale behind the choice of architecture of the learning environment as well as the instructional design of the programme to enhance co-presence and place presence, to build a true community of practice and to foster collaboration for reflective learning. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education Emerald Publishing

Learning spaces in virtual worlds: bringing our distance students home

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © Emerald Group Publishing Limited
ISSN
2050-7003
DOI
10.1108/JARHE-02-2014-0026
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Purpose – Distance learning (DL) programmes are becoming increasingly popular in higher education. Overcoming feelings of isolation that may occur due to the reduced support available, the few possibilities of social interaction and the non-existent campus atmosphere in online courses, have become one of the major challenges of designers and instructors of DL programmes. The paper aims to discuss these issues. Design/methodology/approach – This paper provides an example of how the authors can create and use virtual world (VW) learning spaces that not only match the face-to-face learning experience, but also enhance it. Innovation@UWE Island in Second Life, home of the MA education in virtual worlds, is an example of pedagogical innovation that capitalises on what VWs have to offer to social aspects of teaching and learning. In this programme the authors use a three-dimensional virtual space to provide postgraduate students – physically located in diverse geographical areas of the world – with a sense of community and connectedness that matches the sense of belonging that often accompanies the on-campus learning experience. Findings – The paper provides examples of students engaging in an environment where traditional conceptions of both “teaching” and “learning” do not apply, where the four-walled classroom is not the only setting where learning happens, where everyone in the group can potentially be an instructor or a peer, an expert or a novice, and learn from each other in a meaningful way. Originality/value – This paper introduces the rationale behind the choice of architecture of the learning environment as well as the instructional design of the programme to enhance co-presence and place presence, to build a true community of practice and to foster collaboration for reflective learning.

Journal

Journal of Applied Research in Higher EducationEmerald Publishing

Published: Apr 13, 2015

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