This paper gives an overview of the educational potential of virtual worlds and draws on the results of the AVATAR ‘Added value of teaching in a virtual world’, the ST.ART ‘Street Artists in a virtual space’ and the Euroversity projects, all funded with support by the European Commission under the Lifelong Learning Programme. These action-research projects deal with the technological, pedagogical, cultural and motivational benefits of using virtual worlds in educational settings and provide a framework for the implementation of virtual worlds in education.
An important factor for developing quality multimedia materials is that future developers should know the learning preferences and applicable strategies of potential students in depth and should also be able to look critically on the products developed by others and to be able to evaluate the added value of their own and others contributions. This paper describes our teaching strategy using an online collaborative methodology with added value based on: (a) generating student profile, (b) online knowledge building and (c) evaluation strategy. The applied methodology integrates e-learning preferences of different learning style dimensions and takes into consideration students´ expectations in learning situations as well as their background knowledge and skills. Knowledge building was realised by means of oral presentations and discussions and finalised within the online learning environment. Developing critical thinking and monitoring this learning progress was carried out by self-evaluation and peer-evaluation of one´s own products and those created by others and final evaluation required summed performance to be divided among students upon negotiated merits.
Article first published in ‘Interdisciplinary Journal of E-Learning and Learning Objects’, V. 6 (2010), pp. 203-215. Reprinted with permission of the Informing Science Institute