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Learning in Technology-Rich Environments: Second Life vs. Moodle
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Learning in Technology-Rich Environments: Second Life vs. Moodle



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  • Good afternoon! My name is Mikhail Fominykh. I am a PhD-candidate at NTNU. I am working on the area of learning with 3D virtual environments. So now I’d like to present you my paper “Learning in Technology-Rich Environments: Second Life vs. Moodle” . As you know there are many approaches to learning , as well as many technologies that can be used for learning. And a great number of different tools , of cause. I decided to write this paper because I notice that there is some misunderstanding of 3D virtual environments among educators and even people who participated in this kind of conferences. So, in the paper you can find an overview of Learning with Technology , but most importantly there is an attempt to clarify How 3D Virtual Environments can be used and are used for learning in comparison with well known LMS technology .
  • Since there are many learning technologies and many tools, it is often difficult to choose one. So than, how to select an appropriate approach and a learning tool? I think you agree that there is a need among educators (and maybe administration people) to increase understanding of what technologies exist and what they are good for. Because though we discuss new and new technologies, better and better tools, as I can see it, many institutions are limited to using traditional tools only.
  • So lets talk about 3D virtual environments. They can be defined as facilitated by networked computers , three dimensional , synchronous , persistent environments . These environments use 3D computer graphics, not only 2d or text; These environments creates a notion of a “common time” and allow synchronous activities; These environments are persistent , which means that they can not be paused. They continue to exist; And… without a network of computers , it could describe a real world;
  • These 3D VE have advantages and limitation for learning . Making survey and supervising student projects in VEs we discovered a number of features that VE provide (unique advantages), but it usually has both positive and negative effects. 1. So, 3D VEs provide synchronous collaboration support , they are highly interactive, but they demand more effort to use , more effort to learn how to use them. 2. They provide a sense of presence , which is very important for navigation and communication, and for engagement as well, however this often lead to some difficulties in orchestrating educational activities. Just to gather people together could be a problem, because it is just fun, they can start just wandering around, doing other things. 3. And finally 3D VEs provide powerful content visualization , which means you can more possibilities for presenting educational content and for creating the content of cause, but again it demand. It demand good equipment , probably better than technologies that are used for learning. There are SOME learning tasks where the advantages of 3D VEs are more important than disadvantages. When for a certain investment you get a satisfactory effect. And.. Maybe not? So that is what I am trying to find out. When using 3D virtual environments for educational activities is feasible. But what is a bit more clear is that there are some cases where the disadvantages can be not considered. If for example, you deal with people who already familiar with the technology, or your institution already has necessary equipment.
  • So since defining when using 3D VEs is feasible for learning is not an easy task, I have started with a comparison, because people often familiar with LMSs. I compared the possibilities for learning with Second Life and Moodle . First – the environment . This is actually why these two platforms cannot be compared, but only some of their possibilities. Second life is the most popular 3D virtual world, made for any imaginable activity and used mostly for entertainment. Moodle is a website, but made specially for assisting education. Both environments can be very useful and they both are used in practice. Here a great potential would have a tool that integrate advantages of these two platforms. There is actually one tool called Sloodle , but as I know it is realize mostly as a set of links between SL and Moodle.
  • Second life and Moodle provide very different experience . The first tries to simulate reality as accurate as possible, but enhanced reality, which is some times more important. It makes possible to learn by exploring the env. in the way that is natural, by synchronous activities, by building, by acting. And this is an enhanced reality, where you can do what is expensive or impossible in reality. In its turn, Moodle focuses on other things. The learning experience is complementing traditional approaches (for example lectures) … providing additional information about the course, about the topic, discussion space and others.
  • Both platforms provide possibilities for collaboration. Both have tools for communication. Both integrate web 2.0 principles, but Second life make it in 3D something like “user-generated 3D content” But what is different is Second life has a lot of unnecessary features… that is good for engaging learners, but they can simply fall to just having fun Moodle has special tools for learning. Moodle itself is a learning tool.
  • It was shown that 3D virtual environments as learning tools have many advantages, but not suitable for every task. In the paper I derived the following list of cases that shows when this technology should be preferably used. What this list is not include is a money issue. 3D VEs can suit some learning tasks when you have some money to spend or there is a demand to save money. This list is the first attempt to answer the question of helpfulness of 3D VEs for learning. Every item of this list could be challenged and improved or replaced. These items cannot be used separately, but they can rather generate a general sense that the technology suits a learning task.
  • 1. In this paper it is presented An overview of learning in technology-rich environments 2. Than A comparison of learning opportunities of Second Life and Moodle is made 3. And finally, based discussion in the paper and on the empirical experience in using Virtual worlds, A list of recommendations for defining when virtual worlds can be used for learning is derived


  • 1. Learning in Technology-Rich Environments: Second Life vs. Moodle PhD candidate Mikhail Fominykh Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) Norway 16.03.2010 IASTED International Conference on Web-based Education, Sharm el-Sheikh
  • 2. Platform finding Learning task Platform #1 Platform #2 Learning task Learning task Learning task Platform Platform Platform Platform Platform
  • 3. 3D Virtual Environment Definition
    • three dimensional, synchronous, persistent environment, facilitated by networked computers
  • 4. 3D Virtual Environment as a learning platform
    • Provide
      • synchronous collaboration support
      • sense of presence
      • powerful content visualization
    • Demand
      • effort to use
      • effort to orchestrate
      • good equipment
  • 5.
    • Environment
    Second Life vs. Moodle 3D virtual world interactive web-site
  • 6. Second Life vs. Moodle
    • Experience
    simulating real life complementing lectures
  • 7. Second Life vs. Moodle
    • Tools
    common web 2.0 tools in 3D unnecessary features special learning tools common web 2.0 tools
  • 8. Guidelines 3D VEs can be used for learning, when
      • Social constructivism is the major approach;
      • synchronous activities are more important than asynchronous;
      • learning benefits from the sense of presence;
      • there is a demand to replace real-life experience (e.g.f2f) rather then to complement it;
      • 3D content explains better than 2D;
      • potential learners have already got some experience in working with 3D virtual environments;
      • hardware requirements suit potential learners.
  • 9. Conclusion
    • An overview of learning in technology-rich environments
    • A comparison of learning opportunities of Second Life and Moodle
    • Recommendations when virtual worlds can be used for learning
  • 10. Thank you! Mikhail Fominykh NTNU, Norway E-mail: [email_address] Slides: http://slideshare.net/mfominykh/ Second Life: http://slurl.com/secondlife/NTNU/