About this paper

Appears in:
Page: 1699 (abstract only)
Publication year: 2012
ISBN: 978-84-695-3491-5
ISSN: 2340-1117

Conference name: 4th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 2-4 July, 2012
Location: Barcelona, Spain

VIRTUAL WORLDS IN HIGHER EDUCATION: ASSESSING THE RISKS

G. Tombs

Coventry University (UNITED KINGDOM)
3D virtual worlds such as Second Life have become increasingly present in higher education [HE] throughout the past decade, demonstrated by observable advances in technology and pedagogy for virtual worlds. Usage patterns have emerged around areas including health and safety, medicine and language learning, and pedagogies such as problem-based learning (Savin-Baden 2010). Initial difficulties were identified by Warburton (2009) as virtual worlds rose in popularity in the United Kingdom [UK], and some of these (but by no means all, and not in all environments) have been assuaged more recently. For example, Kirriemuir (2010) noted that technological challenges are reported less often by practitioners using virtual worlds. Further, the 2008-2011 ‘boom years’ in virtual world research and publishing could be seen to counter initial concerns of a lack of theorisation around virtual world pedagogy (Mawer, Steils & Tombs 2011). This is supported by longer-term research projects nearing completion, such as the Leverhulme-funded CURLIEW study which has funded this paper. Yet it is contended here that as we continue with technological progress, it is essential that we recognize barriers to virtual world pedagogical practice extend far beyond this area.

Drawing on the author’s PhD research, this paper presents a case study of virtual world pedagogy in HE, which takes the virtual world Second Life as its example. The study took a two-pronged approach to data collection, firstly interviewing virtual world teaching practitioners, researchers and project managers, and secondly policy makers, prominent researchers and managers in UK HE. In doing so, this study was able to reveal wide-ranging perspectives around the use of virtual worlds. Central to these perspectives were acknowledgements of risk involved in virtual world teaching practice, which were distilled into four distinct forms: pedagogical risk, technological risk, financial risk and reputational risk.

This paper takes pedagogical risk as its focus, presenting the multiple perspectives shared by participants in this study. It will first seek to define “pedagogical risk” within the context of virtual world use. It then goes on to argue that participants’ views around risk in pedagogy can play a key role in shaping perspectives on virtual world use. Finally, it will conclude by arguing that only in acknowledging and discussing individual positions on pedagogical risk, can we comprehend, inform and develop approaches to virtual world pedagogy.
@InProceedings{TOMBS2012VIR,
author = {Tombs, G.},
title = {VIRTUAL WORLDS IN HIGHER EDUCATION: ASSESSING THE RISKS},
series = {4th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies},
booktitle = {EDULEARN12 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-695-3491-5},
issn = {2340-1117},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Barcelona, Spain},
month = {2-4 July, 2012},
year = {2012},
pages = {1699}}
TY - CONF
AU - G. Tombs
TI - VIRTUAL WORLDS IN HIGHER EDUCATION: ASSESSING THE RISKS
SN - 978-84-695-3491-5/2340-1117
PY - 2012
Y1 - 2-4 July, 2012
CI - Barcelona, Spain
JO - 4th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
JA - EDULEARN12 Proceedings
SP - 1699
EP - 1699
ER -
G. Tombs (2012) VIRTUAL WORLDS IN HIGHER EDUCATION: ASSESSING THE RISKS, EDULEARN12 Proceedings, p. 1699.
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