Mere Mortals Creating Worlds: Low Threshold 3D Virtual Environments for Learning
The prevalence of computer games in popular culture and their demonstrable success at engaging players in complex activity requiring learning of new skills has generated wide interest in the potential of games and related 3D virtual environments for education. The process of design, developing, and deploying tailored virtual environments is typically expensive in terms of time and money, both of which are usually scarce in education. What educators need, especially during the initial period during which the educational affordances of virtual environments are being explored, is an approach that can support experimentation by educators with ideas for the application of virtual environments in support of pedagogy. Ideally such an approach would enable educators to test designs by rapidly developing and deploying virtual environments without requiring substantial technical support. Uptake of other technologies by educators has been encouraged by identifying tools that present relatively low barriers to use, ‘low threshold applications’ (LTA) (Gilbert, 2004). This paper will describe a project that has sought to develop tools and processes that support educators in working with 3D virtual environments in ways that encourage experimentation by facilitating easy development and adaptation of environments for particular pedagogical purposes. Examples of tools and environments that have been developed will be presented together with results of formative evaluations of their applications for learning.
Keywords: 3D Virtual Environment, Low Threshold Application, Educational Design
Dr. Peter Robert Albion
Associate Professor, Faculty of Education, University of Southern Queensland