Development and Evaluation of Virtual World Instruction Based on a Constructivist Learning Environment Design Framework

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Virginia Tech


By their very nature, physical classrooms limit the external resources that are readily available to teachers and students. However, many educators desire to expand the student's learning environment to include outside resources (Partnership for 21st Century Skills, 2009; NCSS, 2010; U.S. Dept. of Education, 2004). Much of this desire is due to the influence of constructivism; however, many teachers are without the knowledge and resources to implement a Constructivist Learning Environment (CLE) (Diem, 1999; Mason et al., 2000; Swan and Hofer, 2008). Therefore, how to create a suitable community-driven learning environment that allows classroom teachers to utilize resources outside their immediate location is a problem faced by many of today's educators.

Past research has identified five key attributes any CLE must incorporate: embedded within realistic and authentic environments, allow for communication and collaboration among and between students, teachers and mentors, allow for multiple perspectives and views to be seen and shared, promote a student's self-awareness and self-reflection, and allow the learner to be autonomous (Jonassen, 1994; Driscoll, 2005). When considering this list against technological affordances, the one technology that appears capable of fulfilling these requirements is virtual worlds (Kemp and Haycock, 2008). Designed as a developmental research study, this research validates the use of virtual worlds as a development tool when building a CLE within the K-12 environment.



virtual worlds, CLE, constructivist learning environments, Education, instructional design, design and development research