Chapter published in Handbook of Research on Web 2.0, 3.0 and X.0: Technologies, Business, and Social Applications, (Ed.) S. Murugesan, IGI Global, 2009.

Advancing Learning through Virtual Worlds

Steve Mahaley
Director of Learning Technology
Duke Corporate Education
310 Blackwell St.
Durham, NC, 27701 USA

Robin Teigland
Associate Professor
Center for Strategy and Competitiveness
Stockholm School of Economics
Box 6501
113 83 Stockholm, Sweden

Higher education institutions and corporations are increasingly exploring new pedagogical methods to align with learning styles of incoming students and employees, who are amazingly adept at using web 2.0 applications. This chapter explores the use of virtual worlds, in particular that of Second Life, in educational activities by organizations such as higher education institutions or corporations. We begin by introducing virtual worlds with a particular focus on Second Life. We then provide an overview of the benefits of this environment for learning activities before presenting a set of potential learning activities that can be conducted within Second Life. We then discuss an in-depth example of 3D teaming - one learning activity within Second Life conducted by the authors. After a discussion of implementation challenges, we then present areas for future research.

To learn effectively we need not only to experience but also to be able to share our experience with others. In education institutions this has traditionally meant listening (to a talking head in front of the class), reading assigned texts, and communicating what has been learned by answering some pre-defined questions. A more recent view of learning adds to both the experience and the communicating aspects of learning. In this view, more emphasis is placed on experiences where students discover, are involved in, and are exposed in different ways to the...

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