An exploration of teaching and learning in a virtual world in the context of higher education
Fitzsimons, Sabrina (2012) An exploration of teaching and learning in a virtual world in the context of higher education. PhD thesis, Dublin City University.
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This research provides an account of one third level educator’s experience of teaching and learning within the three dimensional multi-user virtual world Second Life. An ethnographic methodology is employed. First, a narrative of my journey of immersion into the field is provided. Three stages in this journey are identified: separation, transition and transformation. Within each stage are distinct sub-stages and each stage is explored in detail. Second, the findings from the data analysis are presented in terms of five key themes: the virtual teacher, learner engagement in the virtual world, the fear factor, getting to grips with methodology and finally, place based education in a virtual space. In the third part, the contribution to new knowledge of the thesis is explained through a virtual world adjustment theory comprising five phases; orientation, euphoria, crisis, survival and transformation. Each phase of the theory represents a movement toward new knowledge and understanding. The overall conclusion is followed by recommendations derived from the research and the implications of these recommendations for potential virtual world educators are analysed.
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