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Lessons Learned When Using Virtual Reality with Middle School Students


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This study from 2010 / 2011 explains how a higher education instructor learned how to create a complex project within an immersive virtual reality setting for middle school students

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Lessons Learned When Using Virtual Reality with Middle School Students

  1. 1. Migrating towards K12 in virtual spaces: Second Life lessons learned as higher education meets middle school students -- by Eileen A. O’Connor, Ph.D. -- Empire State College / State University of New York -- February 2011 -- YouTube overview of pilot project w/ middle school students in SER/VE (STEM Exploratory Real/Virtual Environment – 5.45 min.
  2. 2. The STEM Exploratory Real/Virtual Environment (SER/VE) -- main Science Center
  3. 3. Communication, interactions, & lessons learned: two themes • Overview of the interaction & instruction – The hub: the virtual, the instruction website, and the interactive, private website – The instructional interactions themselves • The controls, motivations, interventions, and assessments – Keeping the project on track • These areas overlap and integrate in this presentation; please see the paper for all the details
  4. 4. Background on SER/VE (STEM Exploratory Real/Virtual Environment) • Secured private Second Life island – too much procedural commotion, but worth it eventually; – some funding and course release from Empire State College • Worked informally with two middle-school homeschooled students (10 & 13 yr old) for ½ day per week over 6 months; the clever 13 yr old made the buildings • Began the formal pilot in late fall 2010
  5. 5. Research questions • From the larger goals and objectives that the author is currently examining from this preliminary work, for the purpose of this report, the author asked: – (a.) what were the elements of the instructional and social environment that provided support for the project-based, informal-science learning objectives? what aspects needed to be revised or enhanced to ensure that appropriate learning was evident? – (b.) what aspects of the project’s curriculum, instruction, and design worked effectively and what needed to be improved to achieve the project’s learning goals? • Many, many, many other lessons learned and studies were evident; beyond the scope of this paper
  6. 6. First week: interest, energy . . . and confusion
  7. 7. Initial communication issues; fear for project integrity Disruptive behaviors Confused co- teaching Limited communications within SERVE The initial student designer became personally involved without understanding the project
  8. 8. Ongoing remedies to communication issues, as will be consider more within -- Sent weekly reminder emails -- Found a work- around for lack of headsets – instruction spoke / question & responses were typed back -- Created a co- instructor animation & both an external & a social website -- Rewarded both procedural learning and early submissions Were mainly ignored; since the disruption was intended with good humor it was considered as a support to motivation
  9. 9. 1. The setting for the meetings 2. The first meeting; going over the instructions on location 3. Improving independent instruction: placing instructional & interactive materials on the island 4. Ongoing: making animated tutorials to teach tech & the adventure & game concept Tutorial website put onto the island The virtual interactions were clarified
  10. 10. The information website was updated weekly; emails were sent too
  11. 11. In the final week, the link to the Judges’ Survey as included too
  12. 12. Website concept was good but . . . • Too much informal communication; prevented understanding of the complex ideas • Insufficient analytics –hard to know the actual usage • Lesson Learned: Use of the websites and the instructional materials need be integrated into the initial requirements – use Linden $$$ as leverage
  13. 13. Ongoing insights and adjustments • Needed more control over the direction of the complex project – and, to overcome confused directions from one student • Needed more ways to integrate directions and to share / model work • DaddyDarren Denver was invented
  14. 14. An animated co-instructor helped with the weekly requirements – AKA, DaddyDarren Denver
  15. 15. DaddyDarren Denver animations were at the website, were placed within SER/VE, and were emailed (a link); he gave tips on the process and the “adventure,” and directed students to the website for all the tutorials
  16. 16. But there needed to be a place for student- to-student ongoing project communication SER/VE – the virtual island Instructional website Social website Came after the 3rd week
  17. 17. Social website created • Needed a way to extend and network the ongoing learning outcomes • Created a private, invited website with Google Sites • Uploaded emerging PowerPoint work – Encouraged competition and sharing – Not used towards the end  not before the contest (a competitive group, for sure) • Lessons learned – needed models for complex work, however, need to find the appropriate competition / sharing mix
  18. 18. Later week: now paying more attention (really), because more assessments had been embedded
  19. 19. Using “contest” to embed assessments & control project • Surveys and quests for Linden $$$ (economy within Second Life) • Additional Lindens for early work submissions  ensured preparation & allowed for individualized feedback • Lessons learned: need to establish checkpoints and feedback components for complex distance instruction
  20. 20. Additional directions were built into the placards to make it easier to learn if no one was present to explain them
  21. 21. Finally, the final presentations – see the different ways for viewing & navigating
  22. 22. The students & judges were very engaged  they came forward to see better
  23. 23. Judging was a serious event for the students--they emailed anxiously for results • Two attending “professional” judges; one additional from review of PowerPoint; from my teacher education class • Six of the seven participants voted too Students Professional: averaged vote Participants: averaged votes Both w/ weighting Students 1* 19.50 18.9 19.5 Student 2 18.50 15.8 16.7 Student 3 19.00 13.8 16.6 Student 4 18.50 13.8 16.5 Student 5 19.00 12.5 15.5 Student 6 18.00 12.75 15.8 * This was the group that worked together on their presentation
  24. 24. What were the lessons learned? • Behaviors need to be considered and weighed • Instructional materials must be multi-layered and available in many areas • Assessment must be ongoing and embedded to ensure understanding and compliance
  25. 25. Behaviors . . . and control • More school like behaviors needed . . . – Disruptive texting can go on even when paying attention – Motivation needs to be balanced with control • What are the trade-offs in middle school setting? • Lessons learned: students are comfortable and informal in this environment • Additional development and research: bringing in more structure and determining the tipping point
  26. 26. Integrated multi-media environment with embedded assessment • When creating a “world” with no physical teacher present, you need: – Initial assessment of student skills within the learning environment itself – Multi-leveled instructional materials – Sequencing of skill / concept introduction – Integrated, ongoing assessment – use the affordances of the environment (Linden $$$) – Gentle control to maintain motivation & appropriateness
  27. 27. Learning outcomes were good • Rich, complex projects / many tech skills incorporated – Internet search, Google Earth use, some created YouTube – Higher level thinking and communication – 21st century skills – virtual / interactive web • However, these were gained at considerable instructor intervention • In the future, more structure and review will occur to make procure these outcomes more readily . . . Stay tuned
  28. 28. References • Ashford, E. (2008, October). Educators find videogames engage students in learning. National School Boards Association Volume. Retrieved January 7, 2011 from earning.aspx . • Carnahan, C. (2010). Immersive Learning in K-12 Schools: Success and Limitations. In D. Gibson & B. Dodge (Eds.), Proceedings of Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference 2010 (pp. 1848-1852). Chesapeake, VA: AACE. • Cooper, T., Carroll, S., Liu, C., Chelberg, D. & Franklin, T. (2009). Using the Virtual World of Second Life to Create Educational Games for Real World Middle School Science Classrooms. In G. Siemens & C. Fulford (Eds.), Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2009. Chesapeake, VA: AACE. 2124-2133 • DiPietro, M., Ferdig, R.E., Black, E.W. & Preston, M. (2010). Best practices in teaching K-12 online: Lessons learned from Michigan Virtual School teachers. Journal of Interactive Online Learning, 9(3), 10-35. • Erdoğan, M., Kurşun, E., Şışman, G., Saltan, F., Gök, A., & Yildiz, İ. (2010). A qualitative study on classroom management and classroom discipline problems, reasons, and solutions: A case of information technologies class. Educational Sciences: Theory & Practice, 10(2), 881-891. • Hoag, A. M., Jayakar, K. P., & Erickson, K. (2003). The role of trust in virtual and interpersonal environments: implications for team learning & case method pedagogies. Journalism & Mass Communication Educator, 57(4), 370-383. • O’Connor, E. (2008). Becoming a Virtual Instructor: How Can Higher Education Faculty Prepare for Second Life?. In G. Richards (Ed.), Proceedings of World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare, and Higher Education 2008. Chesapeake, VA: AACE. 1144-1149 • O’Connor, E. A. (2010) Instructional and design elements that support effective use of virtual worlds: what graduate student work reveals about Second Life. Journal of Educational Technology Systems, 38(2), 214 – 234. • Schiller, S. Z. (2009). practicing learner-centered teaching: pedagogical design and assessment of a second life project. Journal of Information Systems Education, 20(3), 369-381. • Steinkuehler, C. & Duncan, S. (2008). Scientific habits of mind in virtual worlds. Journal of Science Education and Technology. 17(6), 530-543. • Sullivan, F. (2009). Risk and responsibility: A self-study of teaching with Second Life. Journal of Interactive Learning Research, 20(3), 337-357. Chesapeake, VA: AACE.