Title: Understanding student engagement in 3D virtual learning environments

Authors: Joe Wan, Mike Reddy, David Longman

Addresses: Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching, University of Wales, Caerleon Campus, Newport, NP18 3QT, UK. ' Newport Business School, University of Wales, City Campus, Newport, NP20 2BP, UK. ' Newport School of Education, University of Wales, Caerleon Campus, Newport, NP18 3QT, UK

Abstract: With the growing movement to deliver learning at a distance, one particular technology, 3D virtual learning environments (VLEs) is being investigated as a means to supplement campus-based learning. 3D VLEs may enable greater social engagement than other Web 2.0 technologies. In order to explore the opportunities for student engagement in 3D VLEs, this paper will investigate virtual learning communities through the exploration of the idea of narrative and avatars: narrative is an imaginative and creative process; avatars are the animated agents that represent the individual participants and connect sociability and interactivity. Case studies of learning environments within Second Life are presented in order to illustrate the use of constructed narratives by which varying types of student engagement are supported. This paper concludes that narrative is a mechanism that can bind communities of practice together and avatars are the device through which a personal narrative is implemented and which enables participation.

Keywords: VLEs; virtual learning environments; internet; world wide web; Second Life; virtual worlds; virtual communities; web based communities; online communities; Second Life; student engagement; constructed narratives; narrative guidance; narrative construction; avatars; distance learning; campus-based learning; social engagement; Web 2.0; imaginative processes; creative processes; creativity; animated agents; individual participants; sociability; interactivity; communities of practice; personal narratives; student participation; Tower; Texas Wesleyan University; Genome Island; universities; higher education; USA; United States; genetics; GENIE Lab; University of Leicester; Media Zoo; UK; United Kingdom; University of Hertfordshire; virtual counselling; University of California; UC Davis; Virtual Hallucinations; University of Tras-os-Montes; Alto Douro; Portugal; 3D; three dimensions; three dimensional; technology enhanced learning.

DOI: 10.1504/IJTEL.2011.042099

International Journal of Technology Enhanced Learning, 2011 Vol.3 No.5, pp.468 - 481

Received: 11 Sep 2010
Accepted: 10 May 2011

Published online: 26 Feb 2015 *

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