Using the power of research to inform ICT integration in education

Michael Gardner, Adela Ganem-Gutierrez, John Scott, Bernard Horan and Vic Callaghan (2011) Immersive Education Spaces Using Open Wonderland: From Pedagogy Through to Practice , Published as chapter in IGI Global book ““Multi-User Virtual Environments for the Classroom: Practical Approaches to Teaching in Virtual Worlds”, 2011

This chapter presents a case study of the use of a Virtual World environment in UK Higher Education. It reports on the activities carried out as part of the SIMiLLE (System for an Immersive and Mixed reality Language Learning) project to create a culturally sensitive virtual world to support language learning (funded by the UK government JISC programme). The project built on an earlier project called MiRTLE, which created a mixed-reality space for teaching and learning. The aim of the SIMiLLE project was to investigate the technical feasibility and pedagogical value of using virtual environments to provide a realistic socio- cultural setting for language learning interaction. The chapter begins by providing some background information on the Wonderland platform and the MiRTLE project, and then outlines the requirements for SIMiLLE, and how these requirements were supported through the use of a virtual world based on the Open Wonderland virtual world platform. We then present the framework used for the evaluation of the system, with a particular focus on the importance of incorporating pedagogy into the design of these systems, and how we can support good practice with the ever-growing use of 3D virtual environments in formalised education. Finally we summarise the results from the formative and summative evaluations, and present the lessons learnt which can help inform future uses of immersive education spaces within Higher Education.

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