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New developments in virtual learning

Page history last edited by Chris 10 years, 1 month ago


An updating list of virtual worlds for you to see how things are developing. 



1     Use of Serious Games as VW platforms

     There are many platforms that can be realised for learning and teaching which often are provided primarily as games and many games which are developed specifically for learning and teaching. So for example learning tasks can be produced in commercial gaming contexts for students to explore civilisation within the context of historical simulation, students could use minecraft for creative content production, and portal can be used a mechanism to teach students about basic physics.  Other examples exist which are games built for learning purposes, for example, XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX.


     The choice of game depends very much on the circumstance and on the developed knowledge of the educator.

Questions which might arise around the use of serious games as VW platforms for learning and teaching include:


  • Given a specific idea for a  learning task what environments can achieve that learning task? And what are the affordances of the game?
  • Ethics arise in relation to the type of game selected, the target group of learners and institutional perspectives. For example, although a game may have a 'accurate' representation of a particular place, is that game appropriate in a learning context?
  • There are legal issues as well in terms of particular environments cannot be used with 'young' student groups. Some games provide mechanisms which remove aspects of the content rated materials but generally this is not usual. Obviously these aspects will differ dependent on a national context. For cross national courses there may be additional considerations. PEGI ratings are not always applicable. 


2     Using VW's for Creative Task Development

     2.1     Challenges of Task Design for Co-Creation Activities within VW Spaces


  • How complicated is it for students to build within the environment?
  • Is there a reward model involved, which is more than just taking part in a session?
  • What is the meaningful purpose you wish to employ within the environment? What are the objectives of the creative task design?
  • How do you define the creative process for students in the environment?
  • How much of the exploration is task driven and how much are students encouraged through freedom?
  • One might consider a mixed approach of enabling students to understand an environment through specific task construction (and exploration of the environment) before students are encouraged to focus on the more flexible learning task.
  • How efficient is the environment for achieving the objectives?
  • Where can this task be delivered within the Virtual World environment?
  • If in public spaces, what can non-participants do to the construction?
  • How can the content be saved? Will the content survive longer than the task activity? How will students be introduced to storage considerations? What considerations are there in relation to server
  • Are there export and import functions? Is IP important? Are materials which are built publicly shareable?
  • What are your expectations related to original student production? e.g. many VW environments enable other individuals to use objects constructed by others and re-mix these objects in their own productions. 
  • What is in place to stimulate or frustrate co-creation?
  • Is there a monetary aspect to the VW environment?


     2.2     Contribution to the product and service design through experimentation in VW spaces


     2.3     Enabling Student Idea Ideation within VW



3     Producing Digital Instructural Materials e.g. Machinima

          3.1     issues which arise in considering machinima


  • IP Issues
  • Ethical concerns e.g. consent to use VW environments as filming locations. Similar concerns can exist in VW platforms regarding the need to consult before using a location as a basis for machinima, avatar concerns as well in terms of general filming. Is the space public and each avatar can be filmed or are there problems linked to filming individuals as part of a shot?
  • What are the features of the virtual world which supports machinima production linked to the learning task?
  • How does the virtual camera work within the particular VW? Are there suitable shot related functions built into the environment that make things possible?
  • Is machAdded values of virtual worlds Added values of virtual worlds Added values of virtual worlds inematography a consideration?
  • What other instruments and know how is needed?
  • Is the machinima to be produced as part of the environment or will students be encouraged to use an external application for shot production?
  • How long will students need to construct the machinima?


4     Using VW's to study Physical Worlds in a Safe Environment

     <the use of Unreal for emergency simulation other examples?>


     Examples where this makes sense:

          Students with disabilities such as Aspergers may find it useful to engage in VW training regarding social interaction.    VW's can often make this less threatening, however, individuals need to be careful over the presence of 'griefers' in open environments. Dangerous situations (e.g. emergency evacuation, bomb disposal, landing places) can be modelled in various VW environments.


4.1     Considerations?

  • How much does the virtual world simulate the real scenario? Behaviour may be modelled but there can be issues which arise related to stress management which are difficult to manage in a virtual sense?




4.2     New VW Platforms and the Potential for them to Remove Barriers and Inclusion

     Technology provides a major consideration at the present moment in time in relation to which platform to use for course delivery in virtual worlds. The issue is that this consideration often focuses around the need to install or create the selected VW in institutional contexts. Therefore there can be significant issues in relation to compatability and technical support. Browser based environments have the potential to resolve some of these issues.  The concern at the moment is that 3D browser based environments are in their infancy (often they are HTML5 based and there can be restrictions over functionality). However, as browser based environments develop or as other environments are transferred over to browser based versions then these issues start to disappear.


     The normal issues of disability, accessability and social inclusion/exclusion will continue to exist linked to new developments regarding VW in browser spaces.  At present many nations have implemented legislation linked to inclusion for websites.  However, not all websites are in a position where they take this into account and there can be barriers at present linked to proprietary VW browser spaces in relation to accessibility. The issues obviously vary dependent on disability. So for example if a student is deaf then they may find it difficult to use browser based VW's that integrate voice as the primary method of communication.


     Similar to all VW environments the user interface is extremely important. One of the problems with browser based environments on mobile or small screen technologies is often the interface is restricted or difficult for some individuals to use.  Again in these areas over time we would expect improvement.


     As an example of the move to deliver VW environments on mobile platforms recently (January 2014) PocketMetaverse and Lumiya have become available but present particular challenges in terms of their interface.




Social Inclusion


What are the affordances to people with a range of disabilities


Physical disability


How can individuals be included within the virtual environment?



Intellectual disability


     Browser based VW environments


5     The Use of VW's for New Opportunities for Collaboration and Co-operation






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