Virtual world

As the virtual world is currently under development, this page will only portray experimentation done on practice virtual worlds in order to take into account the needs for the AIR project virtual space. Leading up the activation of this page, an introduction to the virtual world and the workshops, seminars, events, and other activities to be had there will be presented briefly on this page. Thank you for your patience.


PRE-

Two virtual language-learning environments have been created as a means of foreseeing possible pedagogical, methodological and logistical needs for the AIR project’s virtual world. These virtual worlds (VW), named English World and Language World, reflect two points of view for virtual world-goers: the language teacher point of view and the language learner point of view.

Definitions;

  • Language teacher point of view (English World): the researcher takes the role of “game designer” in this virtual world. Since there is no formal teaching meant to occur in this VW, this VW simulates a place of language learning in between language classes. In other words, as the students evolve in their language classes, the resources, the design, the interactions, the events, and the pedagogical experience in this VW evolves. The format of this VW resembles more closely the AIR project virtual world from a pedagogical design perspective.
  • Language learner point of view (Language World): the researcher adds the role of “participant” in this virtual world. In order to showcase notes and projects completed through his Turkish, Muskogee, Japanese, and Quechua language classes, he constructs this VW to be a place of display, of language connections, of collaboration among other learners in the same classes, and of feedback from teachers. This VW plays an important part in foreseeing issues and benefits of the AIR VW because it puts the researcher in the seat of the everyday participant, experiencing and co-creating within a virtual languag-learning environment.

PREparing for AIR: Virtual worlds for learning and teaching (GatherTown)

  1. Point of view – language learning teacher: English World

7 main spaces: 1 private, 6 public; an outdoor space, an atrium of private rooms, a conference space, a co-working space, a presentation space, a poster space, and a chill-out space. This practice virtual world has been constructed to foresee potential instructor/learner space needs for the AIR project’s virtual world.

An essential point of observation for this dissertation is the organization and development of each learner’s space. At time of publishing, each learner space has been designed by the teacher, mostly due to the inexperience of the learners with the platform and the age of the learners (6 to 14 years old). Ideally, the students would learn the software, develop good technological and pedagogical habits for virtual world learning, and begin to create and design their own spaces autonomously. To that end, the researcher hypothesizes through this experiment that the organization and resourcefulness of the learner space influence heavily a learner’s ability to be autonomous in their learning [1], as measurable through their implication in, continued use of, or desertion of the VW.

Resources for individual learner spaces:

Example of bulletin board
  • Bulletin board with interactive links to recurrent activities relevant to the current learning topic,
    • Past bulletin boards to be placed in an accessible database for the student to review whenever
  • Genially-generated virtual office space for more in-depth self-study
    • Each office space contains the following content:
      • Instructional design
        • Information button to explain the functions of the office space
        • Title: “[Name]’s VIRTUAL OFFICE”
        • Introduction paper to the topic (1-page)
        • Comical video for a mind break
      • Socio-affective aspects
        • Decorative elements to make the learner feel comfortable in the space
        • “Framed photo” of a happy moment from the previous class
        • A link to a playlist the students may enjoy while studying or reading
      • Content-related
        • Link to the reading (open-source PDF)
        • Application or game to play about the topic
        • Listening or musical activity about the topic (generally a Lyricstraining exercise)
        • Video of an ecological matter related to the topic (and carefully selected for the learner’s age)
        • A GIF that includes a key word about the topic
        • Language-based activity
      • Extrapolation
        • Cultural connections to the topic
        • Link to the impact and relevance of the topic in the context of the modern world
        • Further reading with links
  • Concept-focused mind map, to be completed in class and put on display with the student’s permission
  1. Point of view – language learner: Language World

4 main spaces, all public: a welcome lounge-rooftop area with games, music, videos, and information kiosks to understand the space; diversified language exchange rooms for learners who are learning the same language (cf Café des Langues); unique language display and creation spaces (one for each language being learned), and a reflections space to disseminate the Oser S’Affirmer ! dissertation research and generate discussion, in several languages, about the concept of confidence in language learning and teaching.

This practice-presentational VW has been constructed to experience the participant point of view in virtual language-learning environments and to collect input on confidence in language learning and teaching. However, concerns about VW accessibility, realistic opportunities for intergenerationality, huge time consumption for content creation, and the socio-technological barrier to virtual-world education bring about questions to the lifespan of education within this VW. To this end, the researcher hypothesizes that the lifespan of a VW education is dependent on factors that plague in-person or synchronized learning environments. In other words,

If the language-learning virtual environment…

  • …stays relevant with respect to world information,
  • allows opportunities for connections within and outside the virtual world, using a connectivist approach to learning [2] for example,
  • enables opportunities for social intergenerationality through differentiated means, and
  • becomes self-sustaining through initiatives and creations put forth by the VW participants,

then we will observe a loyal participant base and longer project lifespan than the duration of this dissertation.


Experiment design

To be completed by April, 2023.


[1] Autonomy, contrary to independence, is one of the keywords in the Oser S’Affirmer ! dissertation. Whereas researcher defines the two terms as totally diverging from a hierarchical structure, he defines autonomy as the ability to learn and teach based on one’s own choices – the individual is autonomous because they have the resources and the know-how to differentiate how, when, in what contexts, with whom, and in what way they want to approach their learning. Independence, as he defines, is the break from any form of assistance: it becomes less about the ability to choose and more about the skills needed to do so without depending on anyone or anything besides what is readily available in the learner/teacher’s environment.

[2] Key aspects to connectivist approaches to learning, such as the half-life of learning, are essential to virtual world education. For more information, read: Siemens, G. (2005). Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning.

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