National University of Singapore (SINGAPORE)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN11 Proceedings
Publication year: 2011
Pages: 2343-2353
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 challenge of teaching students using novel ways and keeping them engaged in theoretical topics has been the most daunting for educators in Higher Education. Until recent years, educators have ventured into the forefront of using Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs), leveraging on sophisticated teaching platforms like 3-dimensional (3D) multi-user virtual environments (MUVEs) and the commonly known establishment of virtual learning environments (VLEs) like Second Life.

In 2010, the National University of Singapore launched a campus-wide e-Learning Week that would require students to attend classes online for an entire week, in a simulated drill preparation of a probable outbreak of a pandemic disease (eg. H1N1) which would usually warrant a mandatory quarantine at home. In replacement of this absence in physical being from school for the week, all lessons taught by lecturers and attended by students will be electronically administered via a variety of virtual means of communication which spanned from webcasts for lectures to asynchronous forum discussion boards for tutorials. What could be more innovative and relevant than making use of the affordances and efficacies of a 3D virtual environment like Second Life, to teach cybercrime and its related topics in a cyber virtual environment?

The learning objectives of the academic module, “NM3210: Cybercrime and Society”, were evaluated carefully to derive a learning experience design, detailing into several stages of accomplishment in Second Life to help benchmark progress of students’ learning and for the educator’s final evaluation and assessment of students’ inworld accomplishment. By the end of the exercise, we aimed to enable the self-efficacies of students in constructing knowledge learnt. The design of this assessment exercise took into consideration the two very important elements: Fun and Challenge, by weaving the intended contents into a ‘Cybercrime Quest’, which required the students’ self immersive role-play of their avatars as a criminologist character, to perform a succession of intensive tasks of investigation through the uncovering of hints and clues, to solve the mystery and report the identity of an alleged cybercriminal in order to complete the entire assessment exercise eventually in Second Life. The module also makes strategic usage of a VLE like Second Life, to facilitate shared knowledge and to encourage socio-constructive exchange for research, where the students’ final assignment’s research findings from individual groups were all openly exhibited in a virtual Cybercrime Gallery within the campus in Second Life.

This paper seeks to share the findings from the teaching experiences, design, pedagogies, impacts of students’ learning, education facilitation practices and environment limitations of the academic module, “NM3210: Cybercrime and Society”, attended by over 100 undergraduate students of the Communications and New Media Department, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, National University of Singapore. We will feature the module’s learning perspective in leveraging on a highly customized and purposeful cybercrime game quest, how it scaffolds into stages using engaging simulations with fun and challenges within the university’s presence in Second Life, to impart and share intended knowledge and consequently, to stimulate independent and critical thinking through assessments, in an unique experience of learning in a 3D virtual environment.
Second life, virtual worlds, experiential learning, e-learning, virtual assessment.