Rapid advances in IT are reshaping the teaching and learning styles in higher education. One of the most exciting areas being explored is educating students in the virtual world. Students and staff alike are logging into Griffith University’s Second Life Island in an research project lead by Dr Amir Ghapanchi. After creating their avatars students can attend the Business Informatics subject logging in from anywhere in the world with an internet connection.
The 3D virtual worlds (3DDVWs) support a richness for interaction, collaboration and communication than traditional media. They also have the potential to create engaging and meaningful experiences for learners.
These immersive platform offer the capability to create sophisticated and highly interactive simulations using in-word programming, modelling and scripting tools. 3DVWs support teaching and learning in an educational context and offer the functionality to manage the various aspects of education such as presentation, administration and assessment of coursework.
A participant in the pilot program sums up the experience, “Second Life simulates interacting more than e-learning websites or chat tools, simply because of the avatar. It creates a sense of interacting more as it recreates talking to a person face-to-face. Having the avatar continues to create the feel of actually talking to another person, rather than the feeling of talking to a computer.”