Teacher education through online 3D virtual environments
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Students are engaging with online 3D virtual environments as creative social spaces but virtual environments are foreign to many educators. Second Life is a popular virtual environment and is being evaluated for its potential in facilitating online education. This paper describes the range of educational applications being explored within the Second Life environment and highlights the issues involved in the development and implementation of a virtual environment at Griffith University. Presented are findings of a trial of the environment comparing the effectiveness of the Second Life environment with the BlackBoard environment to support small group discussions. Findings suggest a substantial difference in participant discussion during online tutorials between the two environments. While individual responses were less considered and detailed from students using Second Life than those in using BlackBoard, the interplay of ideas and collaborative contribution to discussion threads resulted in an overall increase in the depth and breadth of discussions using Second Life. Both prompted and unprompted contribution to discussion were greater in the Second Life group and this was attributed to the sense of physical presence providing pressure on participants to respond to points raised in discussions.
Australian Teacher Education Association National Conference, July 2008, Maroochydore, Australia
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