Virtual Worlds for teaching and learning


Wow, can’t believe I’ve now spent several hours in a virtual world (VW) – SCU’s Islands in Second Life ( I’ve been aware of what virtual worlds are for some time but never seen any point, thought it was only for kids and nerds who wanted to interact but were afraid to do so in the real world!

I walked, ran, flew, sailed, took the tour, teleported, swam, sky-jumped (without a parachute!), and played tennis. On the positive side, there was no-one else on the island except the artificial avatars, to see me, the noob, make a fool of myself as I learned to control my avatar. And, I even won at tennis, which if truthful, was fairly easy without an opponent!

On the negative side there was no-one else on the island for me to interact with. Even so, I did still spend hours there, so who is the nerd now!

Actually, it was very interesting and I was obviously engaged enough to interact with the different areas and features of the islands for all that time. I’d imagine it would be even more engaging when involved in specific learning tasks with others. Calongne (2008) highlights the presence factor which makes the VW learning experience more stimulating than traditional online learning methods such as Blackboard. She goes on to highlight various aspects of VW that combat the passive nature adopted by many students in a classroom environment.

In relation to TAS subjects such as Design and Technology and Engineering Studies, I can see that VW offer the chance for students to be involved in collaborative learning exercises that will help to build upon both their teamwork and project management capabilities. It can also help develop their creative skills, as well as their knowledge in relation to the built environment. Dulwich High School (Mac Macquarie, 2011) and Global Kids Online Leadership Program (2012) demonstrate this through videos showing their VW sustainable cities and climate change projects. Although they may be working in a VW, the knowledge and understanding achieved is transferrable to the real world.

At the moment I see something that could be time consuming for developing anything of significance, and may only be enhancing the learning experience at best rather than redefining it. After all, a variety of 3D graphics packages already exist in the field of design and students are already successfully working in teams as they develop their projects. VW do have potential though and it’s definitely worth investigating further as a means for stimulating learning and developing the higher-order thinking skills required for 21st century learning.


Calongne, C.M. (2008). Educational frontiers: Learning in a virtual world. Educause review, 43(5). Retrieved from

Global Kids Online Leadership Program. (2012). Rio+20 the future we want. Retrieved from

Mac Macquarie. (2011, November 23). WHEN2050 3D walkthrough [Video file]. Retrieved from


One thought on “Virtual Worlds for teaching and learning

  1. Hi Gary,

    Great post. I was under a similar thinking as virtual worlds as you were. A place for nerds who didn’t want to interact with the rest of us in the real world. Well after spending a few long hours in the virtual world, I think I have just become one of them. Not a nerd but someone who can see the positive side of exploring virtual worlds. Oh yes, how awesome is it to run, fly, teleport and play tennis, all without getting sweaty.
    I loved your comment Gary where you stated that “virtual worlds offer students the chance to be involved in collaborative learning exercises that will help upon their teamwork and project management.” I too will be teaching the the TAS subject area and as a future Industrial Technology teacher, I can recognize the importance of the 3D graphical world that utilizes the technology better than it does now, engages students more thoroughly and takes teaching in the 21st century and a new and exciting place that I cannot wait to be involved in.

    Thanks Gary. Good luck with the rest of your studies and keep up the awesome work.


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