Virtual Worlds


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A presentation given at University of Derby's Virtual Worlds Seminar 2009.

The views expressed in this presentation are those of the individual Simon Bignell and not University of Derby.

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Virtual Worlds

  1. 1. University of Derby Centre for Psychological Research Virtual Worlds SeminarVirtual Worlds Simon Bignell Lecturer in Psychology University of Derby, UK Email: Twitter: ‘MiltonBroome’
  2. 2. Why Virtual Worlds? They allow users to be able to carry out tasks that could be difficult in the real world • Cost • Scheduling • Location • Ethics• Virtual worlds have the capability to adapt and grow to different user needs. 2
  3. 3. Why Virtual Worlds? Persistence allows for continuing and growing social interactions, which themselves can serve as a basis for collaborative education. Virtual worlds represent a powerful new media for instruction and education.• The use of virtual worlds can give practitioners/educators the opportunity to have a greater level of client/student participation. 3
  4. 4. The Rise of Virtual Worlds• Harvard University• MIT• University of Texas• Francisco State• New York University• Vassar College• Trinity University• University of Buffalo• Oxford University• Nottingham University• Staffordshire University• Leicestershire University• Paisley University• + many more 4
  5. 5. Gar tner Hype Cycle of Emerging Technologies 2008 5
  6. 6. Gar tner Hype Cycle of Emerging Technologies 2009 6
  7. 7. Is this the future of business & education?THE “METAVERSE”A VISION OF THE FUTURE ? Original slide courtesy of Paul Hollins 7
  8. 8. Second Life 8
  9. 9. Learning and Teaching in Vir tual Worlds • Immersive • Engaging • Cost Effective • Flexible • Fun 9
  10. 10. • Problem-based Learning in Virtual Interactive Educational Worlds for Psychology (PREVIEW-Psych) • The project implemented a user- focused approach to develop immersive collaborative tutorials and materials in 3D a multi-user virtual world (Second Life). • Used problem-based learning scenarios dealing with Depression, Schizophrenia, Alcoholism and Anorexia. • Used automated ‘intelligent’ chatbot avatars to role-play scenarios in a simulation of a family home. 10
  11. 11. Blended Learning Revisited: An Exploration of Experiential Learning in 3D Virtual Environments• Project, the design, preparation, planning, development of the virtual teaching space and lessons learnt. 11
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  13. 13. Project• Evaluated the use of Second Life for teaching and learning in Higher Education.• A group of first year Psychology undergraduate students participated in an optional and supplementary Second Life component of our Psychology Skills module. 13
  14. 14. The Rationale• Campus-based and distance learning higher education teaching is increasingly being presented via e-learning although this is often text-based and offers little opportunity to engage in creative social learning experiences.• 3D multi-user virtual environments can provide a highly immersive and socially interactive way of enhancing university teaching.• However, student attitudes towards these highly experiential methods and the degree to which they contribute to learning outcomes when blended with traditional methods are not yet known. 14
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  16. 16. Aims1. To develop methods of teaching basic psychology study skills that place the student at the centre of the learning2. To improve the quality of first year Psychology study skills.3. To develop innovative teaching methods not possible via traditional methods.4. To develop staff expertise in teaching and supporting students in a virtual environment. 16
  17. 17. The Design• A blend of in-world enhanced educational student-led group sessions for learning alongside conventional e-learning material.• Traditional text-based content blended with student-focused methods. • a shift from isolated study and tutor-led instruction to student-led highly interactive group learning.• Students were overall, responsible for the final teaching methods used. • guidance was provided by a facilitator in the form of materials and direction for group discussion and activities. 17
  18. 18. Preparation• We started with nothing and had to fill a space… but with what?• Replicate or Innovate… not that easy to be original… do we have to be?• We can simulate and innovate but we can also control the environment.• What would the ideal classroom look like? 18
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  20. 20. Planning• How are we going to do this?• Funding?• The importance of ‘prims’.• Inductions may be necessary.• The aesthetics vs. function debate (avoiding the compulsion to make it look pretty).• Marketing value vs. sound pedagogy. 20
  21. 21. Teaching• Good intentions… • ‘Teaching methods will be developed and refined over six in-world 50 minute sessions. These sessions will each be themed to focus on specific aspects of the module content.’• Planning and writing your essay. [Synchronous]• How to prepare a PowerPoint presentation. [Synchronous]• Critical Reading of a Journal Paper. [Synchronous]• How to reference an essay using APA format. [Asynchronous]• Assessing the Quality of an Essay. [Asynchronous]• Academic Offences of Plagiarism & Collusion. [Asynchronous]• But the reality was different • In-world communication soon broke down and control was completely lost…the secret was we never really needed it. 21
  22. 22. Development• We learn best by doing (with a little planning)• Woops, we got carried away…• Too big! Too fast!• We had a go…at custom made environments• Pilot - Revise and regroup – that’s better• A brain wave occurred!!!! • “We don’t need all this stuff around us!”… Can we strip it all back to the essentials? What is essential for an effective learning environment? 22
  23. 23. Teaching• What would the ideal classroom look like?• The secret was there all along… • ‘SL-Labs’…slabs! Exposed learning spaces… 23
  24. 24. Example• ‘Spidergram’ Planner (by Eloise Pasteur) 24
  25. 25. Lessons Learnt• Traditional teaching approach is not adequate.• ‘No man is an Island’ (Don’t personalise).• Collaboration and sharing are best.• Virtual Worlds have enduring novelty value.• Form follows function.• Avoid distractions wherever possible.• At first most students are hesitant.• Emphasise problem-based activities not teaching.• Virtual Worlds can be complex and require multitasking when trying to emulate the classroom experience. 25
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  27. 27. Summary• Virtual Worlds can provide opportunity for: • Collaboration and innovation. • Commerce and enterprise. • Research and scholarship.• But presently lacks an evidence base.• Teaching and learning in virtual worlds… • Requires planning and continual development. • Possibly requires relinquishing control to the learner. • If Second Life doesn’t improve your students’/ client’s learning experience, don’t use it! • Support from IT technicians and institution. • Lots and of time to ensure it has real world value for users. 27
  28. 28. Thank you 28
  29. 29. Simon BignellCentre for Psychological ResearchUniversity of Derby, UK (0)1332 593043 (ext: 3043) Twitter: ‘MiltonBroome’ 29
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