New developments in virtual learning


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:



2     Using VW's for Creative Task Development

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



     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



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?




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