C.G. Jensen1, E. Sorensen2

1University College of Northern Denmark, Department of Architectural Technology and Construction Management and Aalborg University (DENMARK)
2Aalborg Univeristy (DENMARK)
The incorporation and use of virtual learning platforms, including computer games, in the education sector, challenge these years the complexity of the learning environment regarding maintaining collaborative, democratic and dialogue-based learning processes that support a high degree of reflection. When virtual learning platforms are used in an educational context, a fundamental paradox appears as the student needs an active and practice-oriented participation identity to learn while at the same time needing to learn to acquire a participation identity. This identity is raised and trained by being a continuous part of a community that recalls the scenarios of reality. It is therefore crucial that the learning environment reflects the reality of which the students' professionalism is unfolded. Learning is, therefore, something more and not just the acquisition of knowledge and past actions. Learning, on the other hand, is the relationship between thought and action and the relationship between people and the environment. Dewey stated, among other things, that we are participating in a world where action and thinking are related, and learning as a concept is therefore connected with the environment. The complexity of context in online learning situations is a difficult element to deal with. Also other researchers and philosophers have reflected on the asynchrony conditions of online interaction. Both Ricoeur who talks about “the referential function to the context” and Suchmann (referring to Peirce from the perspective of semiotics) in her views on situated learning are concerned with relations of context to human actions and interactions in the embedding world.

It is therefore problematic if the "physical learning room" is replaced by computer games and virtual learning platforms that are not sufficiently capable of supporting the intended pedagogical learning processes." It challenges the teacher's ability to disturb and push to the student's learning process and thereby enforcing a link between action, context and thinking through reflection processes. Another significant challenge is the way in which virtual learning platforms change social synergies, such that they appear as reduced representations of reality's physical and social learning space. The article will, therefore, challenge game based learning and Virtual Learning environment in teaching situations where a collaborative, participatory identity, as well as the learning of democratic values and dialogic behaviors, such as e.g. meta-skills and competencies required for engaging in democratic discussions, are the basis for the development of reflection processes linking action and thinking.

Based on a literature review and review of existing computer games the article aims at exploring which design principles that especially mediate experimental and exploratory behavior through social interaction in a virtual learning environment. The article will have a selected focus on computer games within the genre "Massive Multi Online Role Playing Games" (MMORPG) " as they offer new ideas to authentic and situational learning environments that contrast with traditional web 2.0 learning platforms and computer games. The article will, therefore, focus on and discuss how MMORPG games can inspire a mediation of reflective learning in a virtual learning environment through social and democratic interaction opportunities.