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Overcoming the Barrier: Virtual Learning : The Impact of learning in Second Life in Higher Education

by Günes, Pinar

Abstract (Summary)

Traditional education have for long been remaining without major changes made to the actual system. Up until very recently, there has been reluctance towards making fundamental and dramatic changes to the system, but as societies change and develop by mirroring on past experiences, new minds and new ways of thinking emerge suggesting changes and new developments. Consequently, new educational approaches such as e-learning and virtual learning have emerged.

Lately, technology has been transforming and developing than ever before and the demand for modifying accordingly to new technology has become a prerequisite for all industries and institutions. Already with e-learning, a derived concept is worthy of notice. Authenticity, meaning validity and accuracy, has been imposed as one major issue when it comes to e-learning, and also v-learning.

The main goal of this thesis is to present answers and suggestions to the following research questions:

Ø  What value does a virtual education method create for the students?

Ø  What implications are there for an education through Second Life and what is the significance of such an environment?

Ø  What are the main auxiliary instruments or tools that enhance authenticity and the achievement of high presence in a virtual environment?

This research adopted an inductive approach using a qualitative research. The characterizations of knowledge used were descriptive knowledge, normative knowledge, explanatory research and evaluating research for the respective research questions. As a result of collaborating with Kalmar University, Sweden’s first Second Life course “Oral Production” was observed and to intensify the results, an interview was held with the course’s lecturer. The results were thereon analyzed and scrutinized based on the Empirical Findings, Theoretical Framework – consisting of mainly pedagogical theories and of articles concerning virtual learning environments.

The conclusion of this research entails the answers for the research questions. An education via a virtual environment is a development of e-learning, which is an enhancement of a traditional physical education. All students are persuaded to be active and participate in learning, which also promotes interconnectedness between students and teacher. Students can do role-playing and do presentations without feeling embarrassed about their “real” identities being represented. Main auxiliary instruments include virtual presentation boards, audio to communicate with each other and the avatar to direct the speech. Additionally, to enhance high presence in a virtual environment, involving all students with creative exercises seems to be another means in achieving high presence in a virtual environment.

 

Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:

School:Högskolan i Jönköping

School Location:Sweden

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:virtual learning environment v worlds second life 3d internet web 3 0 information technology informationsteknologi informatics informatik

ISBN:

Date of Publication:01/01/2008

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