About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 2624-2633
Publication year: 2011
ISBN: 978-84-615-0441-1
ISSN: 2340-1117

Conference name: 3rd International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 4-6 July, 2011
Location: Barcelona, Spain

THE SIMESCUELA: A CASE IN USING AVATARS COLLABORATION FOR SUPPORTING IMMERSIVE LEARNING

A. Santos

Universidad de las Americas Puebla (MEXICO)
Immersive virtual worlds, like Second Life and many others, due to their three dimensionality and their social interactions affordances, have a strong potential for supporting collaborative learning (de Freitas, 2008). In this type of technology, users, projecting themselves through their avatars into an immersive 3D environment, are able to have a sense of psychological presence in the environment (Dalgarno and Lee, 2010). These affordances allow avatars to interact and live very authentic social experiences, through which motivation, situated cognition, and collaborative learning are promoted.

Most authors agree that the affordances that immersive virtual worlds have are very promising to foster the 21st century type of learning, where students are positioned as “Active decision makers who use their understandings to inquire into particular circumstances and change them.” (Barab, Gresalfi, & Ingram-Goble, 2010, p. 526). Some reviews of the research done in this area research suggest that learners learn well in a virtual world, for example, Hew & Cheung (2010), analyzing mostly descriptive studies, conclude that learning and social interaction are possible with avatar representation among K-12 and higher education learners. However, other authors state that, in fact, very few empirical studies have documented that the quality of learning is actually enhanced when learning in 3D environments as opposed to learning in equivalent 2D environments (Jacobson, et al., 2008; Dalgarno and Lee, 2010).

The main purpose of this paper is to describe an instructional design created to foster collaborative learning in a virtual environment called the SimEscuela. The SimEscuela is a learning environment developed in Second Life with the basic objective of serving as a 3D teachers’ training platform. This virtual environment was designed using a set of instructional strategies theoretically based in the situated learning paradigm, which emphasize allowing participants to collaboratively live authentic problem solving situations related with the teaching and learning process. In particular, the environment looks to foster the five types of collaborative techniques proposed by Barkley et al. (2004, as cited in Konstantinidis et al., 2010): 1) students’ discussion, 2) students help each other to learn, 3) students solve problems, 4) students use graphic tools to organize, and 5) students engage in collaborative writing.

The paper will finally describe how the instructional design was pilot tested with a group of eight teachers and will discuss the initial results and their implications to collaborative learning in immersive virtual worlds.
@InProceedings{SANTOS2011SIM,
author = {Santos, A.},
title = {THE SIMESCUELA: A CASE IN USING AVATARS COLLABORATION FOR SUPPORTING IMMERSIVE LEARNING},
series = {3rd International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies},
booktitle = {EDULEARN11 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-615-0441-1},
issn = {2340-1117},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Barcelona, Spain},
month = {4-6 July, 2011},
year = {2011},
pages = {2624-2633}}
TY - CONF
AU - A. Santos
TI - THE SIMESCUELA: A CASE IN USING AVATARS COLLABORATION FOR SUPPORTING IMMERSIVE LEARNING
SN - 978-84-615-0441-1/2340-1117
PY - 2011
Y1 - 4-6 July, 2011
CI - Barcelona, Spain
JO - 3rd International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
JA - EDULEARN11 Proceedings
SP - 2624
EP - 2633
ER -
A. Santos (2011) THE SIMESCUELA: A CASE IN USING AVATARS COLLABORATION FOR SUPPORTING IMMERSIVE LEARNING, EDULEARN11 Proceedings, pp. 2624-2633.
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