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IBLC11-Abstract-Pulling the Physical and Virtual Environment into the Blend

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Nannayi Dakat
16 May 2011

Author: Prof Martin Loomes

Abstract:

The ultimate goal of this research is to enhance students' blended learning experiences comprising of both face-to-face and online courses, by investigating educational methods, factors and procedures that can help achieve maximum student engagement using e-learning within 3D Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs). The enhanced student engagement aspired for includes increased academic retention (assimilation), participation and overall enjoyment.

This study focuses in demonstrating how the authors used Second Life, as an example of 3DVLEs, innovatively in an attempt to dissolve the barriers between physical and virtual learning media to achieve augmentation in the resulting blended learning experience of students. Hence the ability of the virtual to expand, enhance and enlarge the physical, not substitute it.

The workshop session will consist of (i) an initial presentation explaining how the integration of virtual worlds and traditional physical environments leads an innovative approach to the enhancement of Higher Education Institutes provision, (ii) a hands on activity of the Middlesex virtual learning villages and (iii) a brainstorming session on the future of blended learning and further institutional enhancement.

The case study represented here disseminates finding from a series of pilot studies in the use of 3D VLEs and more specifically on supporting teaching and learning in a virtual campus under normal and challenging circumstances. Challenges rose from inability to conduct face-to-face sessions due to weather conditions, lecturer or student sudden external involvements etc. Furthermore there are recommendations for possible applications of the technology through the use of a variety of educational scenarios in 3D Virtual Learning Environments. The key contribution is to initiate discussions, trigger debates and offer brainstorming opportunities for students. Sessions are highly interactive and require the students to engage in a series of activities, including hands on experience for all willing to access the Virtual Campus and engage in 3D learning sessions.

Keywords: Blended learning, virtual worlds, learning innovation

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