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					John Craig
EDTECH 504
Annotated Bibliography

                  Distance Learning Enhanced Through Virtual Environments
Selected research on the application and future of the role of virtual worlds on distance education

Introduction
In the past distance education has been comprised of a combination of asynchronous learning
platforms like Blackboard and Moodle, and simple synchronous tools like video conferencing
and live discussion board applications. Although these types of applications can bring education
to places and situations not available before, there is also a disconnect created in the teacher
students and student students interactions that is not seen in a traditional face to face classroom.
This bibliography is populated with articles looking at how virtual worlds are impacting the
nature of distance learning and how current learning theory research drives the design of of
learning in virtual worlds. This bibliography will also look to see how a community approach to
learning can be fostered in a virtual world.

Selected Research
Brandl, K. (2005). Are You Ready to "Moodle"?. Language, Learning & Technology, 9(2), 16+.

Moodle is an online based course management system that aids teachers in managing local and
distance learning classes. It provides a location for collaboration of work between members of
the school and as a place teachers can make resources available to students. Moodle allows for
synchronous and asynchronous communication between participants. Limited to members of that
specific Moodle community.

Brown, J.S., Collins, A., & Duguid, P. (1989). Situated cognition and the culture of learning.
Educational Researcher, 18, 32-42.
http://www.exploratorium.edu/IFI/resources/museumeducation/situated.html

Knowledge is like languages. Knowing one particular word allows you to know its definition,
but in the grand scheme of communication is worthless with out the rest of the sentence. the
context of a particular war is as important as the definition of that word. The same can be said for
learning, individual nuggets of information may allow you to spit out fats for an assessment, but
does not help you to understand its greater meaning in the greater whole, or learner community.
Individuals will conscientiously or unconscientiously pick up the inherent characteristics of a
new community and act accordingly.Many schools do not really provide a learning community,
but only a social one. An authentic task is one that is relevant to the normal activity of the
learning community.

Bruner, J. (2004). A Short History of Psychological Theories of Learning. Daedalus, 133(1),
13+.

Idea of stimulus response learning. Students are presented with problems which they must solve
and then the process is repeated until the skill is mastered. There were positive consequences for
correct answers and negative consequences for wrong answers. I think this is the way that
technology was mainly used for the majority of the 20th century. Learning was based on the
individual absorbing knowledge and completing tasks to show that they have learned that
knowledge. All of the learning is based on the individual. It started with television and radio, but
took on a whole new level with the internet with drill and practice type software and similar
internet usage.

Hinn, M. D., Leander, K., & Bruce, B. C. (2001). Case studies of a virtual school. Journal of
Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 45(2), 156.

"What is it like to participate in a virtual world? What can one learn by interacting in space in
which participants are both themselves and constructed personas?" The original course was
designed for masters students and doctoral students, each having a different background in the
use of online technology. This poses an interesting point about community and how your
background will affect your learning. When there is a community that has the history of
technology use it will aid in the effectiveness of that teaching method. A simulated virtual school
was created that the students of the online course could evaluate, while administrative roles were
played by university faculty to have a live people involved. They enables the evaluators and
administrators to have synchronous text chat, and eventually the evaluators wanted to visit the
school. This evaluation is set up very well for asynchronous communication like e-mail, but the
synchronous aspect seemed forced or not originally part of the plan. With a true virtual world I
think the synchronous communication would become the central type of communication making
time use much more efficient. There was an initial skepticism from the school staff by
introductory e-mails, they were not completely sure what to think about this evaluation, and I
think a face to face meeting would have increased the cooperation of the school staff. Also some
of the members of the evaluation team had issues with the online communication involved in the
evaluation. Both of these issues could be resolved with face to face online meetings, which in a
virtual world is very easy to accommodate. They did find having a diverse group of people
working, which is more common in online courses, they was a greater input of different ideas to
discuss and employ to solve problems. A major limitation of the study was that it was a virtual
school. In a virtual universe it would be easier to create a more realistic and tangible situation to
use in education.



Johnson, R. A., & Middleton, J. M. (2008). Accounting for second life. Journal of Accountancy,
205(6), 54+.

Overall this article is not very education centered, but I think it shows a virtual world can be
useful in a real world. CPA island is a location in Second Life that is made up of accounting
educators, CPA firm administrators, a CPA firm of COO, accounting students, and even a CPA
of Linden Labs, the creators of Second Life. Accounting expos can be held in world co-currently
with real world expos to expand the number and diversity of participants. Presentations are
available for view on accounting topics and career paths for anyone to view. Conference rooms
are available to CPA members to hold meetings and gatherings with other members. At present
only members of the group can use the facilities, but it is in the works to create a second
completely public island for use by anyone. A reception desk is located in one of the building
that provides information to CPA in world that people can contact and talk with. On building is
home to an actual CPA form that uses Second Life to attract new clients and do business with
current clients. Several universities have already set-up information centers on the new island
with links to important faculty an accounting information at their school. It is pretty obvious that
this island can really facilitate a community learning atmosphere in the world of accounting, and
there are many other examples similar to CPA island in Second Life for educational purposes.
The direction of education is moving in the direction of the community and interaction of
students with more than just the teacher. Virtual worlds will open up all new opportunities for
conferencing and communication with specialists and other students from around the world. One
of the main limitations right now is that you must be over 18 to join Second Life which limits the
application of this to mostly college age students. There is a Teen Second Life, but it is very
restrictive. Adults are not allowed in the grid unless OK by Linden Labs, which requires a
background check, and then they are only allowed in one specific place for their educational
purpose.




Lankshear, C. (1999). Information, knowledge and learning: Rethinking epistemology for
education in a digital age. Keynote address presented at the Vth National Congress of
Educational Research conference, Aguascalientes, Mexico. Retrieved December 30, 2008 from
http://eric.ed.gov/ERICDocs /data/ericdocs2sql/content_storage_01/0000019b/80/16/99/af.pdf

This keynote address looks at the changing epistemological model of learning in future with the
introduction of new communication and informational technologies. The paper is broken down
into 3 major sections including: the phenomena of their large scale integration into diverse social
practices, the authors epistemological view of education, and the ways technologies discussed in
the first part challenges his educational model and the educational practices based on it. The first
part is looking at the transformation of knowledge in a new high technology society. Knowledge
is no longer the end but a means of exchange. The article discusses the role of world economics
in the exchange of knowledge. He argues that eventually knowledge not digitized will eventually
be lost as the relationship between the knowledge supply and user becomes the dominant
characteristic of knowledge transfer. Learners obtain skills that are designed to apply to real
world situations and will fulfil societies needs. This is a perfect example of need for community
learning which can be enhanced by very socially interactive virtual worlds. He goes on to say
that teachers may be replaced by smart terminals linking all the information databases for
learners to use, and the role of the educator is to teach them to use these terminals. I think that
this is a mistake to take educators for granted. Learners will always require a guide to help find
and build the knowledge they seek and will only become more important with the use of gigantic
virtual worlds loaded with content. New age of telecommunications allows all people to
participate in the transfer of knowledge. This allows for virtual environments to be created and
maintained by all the users making a more diverse body of knowledge. The new technology era
information will not be power but the attention paid to specific information will be. Information
will be easily accessible to all. Role of the educator in virtual worlds to lead students to
information that they should pay attention to. Importance of images can not be overlooked and
virtual world is much more visual than something like Moodle.
Moore, B. J. (1998). Situated Cognition versus Traditional Cognitive Theories of Learning. 161.

Traditional learning is the aquisition of knowledge in the form of symbols that human minds
then comprehend. Cognitive theory looks at how the individual mind. Situative theory looks at
the emergence of knowledge through the interaction of individuals with a greater community
where the individual has a role to play in that learning community. In a situative learning
environment the learner has no identity on their own, but gains their identity through the
interactions with the community. Situated Cognition looks at the emergent properties of the
community from the basic subunit of that community, the individual.

Prawat, R. S., & Floden, R. E. (1994). Philosophical Perspectives on Constructivist Views of
Learning. Educational Psychologist, 29(1), 37-48.

"Constructivist learning theory is based on the now commonplace idea that knowledge is actively
constructed by the learner. This notion has led to calls for a dramatic shift in classroom focus
away from the traditional transmission model of teaching toward one that is much more complex
and interactive. In response to these calls, various "constructivisms" have emerged in the last
decade, each with its own views about how best to facilitate the knowledge construction
process."

Purushotma, R. (2005). Commentary: You're Not Studying, You're Just . Language, Learning &
Technology, 9(1), 80+.

Computer gaming can make language learning much more interesting and realistic. The advent
of computers created better drill and practice software, but was still basically the same as the
workbooks. The increase in the use of audio and video technology allowed for a more interactive
use of technology in language learning by using audio files with cell phones and music videos.
The video game the SIMS creates a living environment where the player makes the everyday
decisions to live a normal life. The language of the game can be easily changed to allow for the
practice of different language in a realistic scenario. In many new games the language
programming is separated from the rest of the programming making it much easier to customize
the games. In a virtual game images and animations become an integral part of the learning
process which can help to enhance learning. The online version of the SIMS allows users to
choose a city and move into the neighborhood and interact with the other inhabitants of that
neighborhood in whatever language they want.

Riel, M., & Fulton, K. (2001). The role of technology in supporting learning communities. Phi
Delta Kappan, 82(7), 518.

This article looks at the use of technology to increase the skills that students learn to help them
enter the real world workplace and be productive in the greater world community. Technology
can create sociological ties between large groups of people allow students to create their own
intellectual identity, and allows the interaction of distant people to learn and teach. Learning
communities can be large or small with very general or specific tasks, but share a common
interest and final goal. Each community member has specific knowledge to impart to other group
members, and leaders can inspire the rest of the group to be better. In a virtual learning
community cooperation is normally more productive than an air of competition. This is different
then a traditional classroom where students helping each other may be viewed as cheating, and
tracking is commonplace. All students are different and they way they learn needs to be altered
to maximize learning. The Internet allowed for the exchange of information between all sorts of
individuals, but a virtual world takes this to a whole new level with the incorporation of 3D style
graphics and animations to complement synchronous or asynchronous learning. Electronic field
trips can now be interactive trip to virtual places with live specialists acting as guides. Online
mentoring can now use highly qualified personal from anywhere in the world. Virtual science
facilities can be used to link researchers and students together and allow them to develop and
carryout scientific investigations like Monterrey Bay Virtual Canyon Project. Students can
participate in activities and test theories without having to worry about detrimental effects.

Smith, J. P. (1993). Misconceptions Reconceived: A Constructivist Analysis of Knowledge in
Transition. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 3(2), 115-163.

Students are not blank slates when they enter the classroom. They have preconcieved ideas about
the world around them, and they may not always be correct. These misconceptions can impede
learning in a traditional classroom where students are not able to construct the knowledge to
counter what they currently believe. Constructivism can not work on a simplistic level or
individual events or concepts, but is most valuable when looking at the complex interaction and
interrelatedness of many of different elements.

Van Horn, R. (2008). New Software, Disposable Software and Second Life. Phi Delta Kappan,
89(6), 407+.

The emmergence disposable software has made it difficult for people to learn and master some
technology before it is obsolete. As people upgrade new computers and technology old
technology becomes unusable and technology costs can spiral out of control.



Waters, J. K. (2007). On a quest for english: Online role-playing games, which take players on
explorations of medieval fantasy worlds, are showing the potential to be a powerful tool for ESL
learning. T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education), 34(10), 26+.

What is probably the best way to learn a new language? Full immersion. Researchers in this
article are talking about how massively multi-player online role-playing games (MMORPG's)
could offer a break through on the education of ESL students. Games like World of Warcraft and
EverQuest are currently being run on ESL servers in places like China and Japan. This would
make it easier for students to access the game online. These games are all run on the English
language no matter where they are played. Using online games will engage students to
participate in the activity that will force them to learn and use the English language. As the
SitCog theory tells us you learn best when you are immersed in the community and real world
application of the subject. These online games are very interactive with the people who play
them, including online chatting during the game and interaction with non-living characters of the
game. Students will quickly grasp what the meaning of word are when they must apply them in
the online game. Preliminary research shows that participating in these online games can
increase language acquisition because players must engage with others in the pursuit of
completing quests, to follow directions, and to be able to ask questions of other players. The
EverQuest game also has 130 hours of audio from 1700 different individuals involved in the
game which allows students to not only see but hear the language. A major limitation found was
the lack of grammatical improvement in the use of the games, and there are arguments that the
vocabulary learned is not very applicable to everyday conversation. SRI International is is
working on a Second Life island for language skills, where participants will come to the island to
learn a new language. On the island students will stay at hotels and eat at local restaurants to
work on their language skills. this provides an environment of learning where students will feel
more comfortable making mistakes and learning will be improved.

Waters, J. K. (2008). Face time: Videoconferencing is adding a new dimension to social
networking-and a new opportunity for K-12 educators and learners. T H E Journal
(Technological Horizons In Education), 35(1), 38+.

This article talks about how video conferencing can be integrated into classrooms around the
world. The first example was a monster design project for younger students where one school
would design and build a monster and then send all of the building instructions to another school
who would try to build the same product. The classes would then video-conference to reflect on
the activity. This is a combination of synchronous and a synchronous use of technology in the
classroom. Near the end of the article the author goes on to say how virtual worlds like Second
Life are not ideal for education because he says it is completely based on synchronous
communication. According to the author's opinion an entire learning environment based on
synchronous learning limits the ability of people to communicate, because all users must be
online at the same time. I chose this article because I think it is very limiting in its evaluation of
virtual worlds and should be addressed. Second Life's major interaction is synchronous, but it
can go far beyond this type of communication. Users are able to leave messages and notes for
other users, and can leave presentations and video clips for others to view. Second Life is also
starting to forge partnerships with very influential educational technology groups. It is now
possible to take a school's Moodle site and create stations in Second Life to access it. At present I
do think that virtual worlds can be limiting in some of its applications, but if we are looking to
the future virtual worlds will provide the best integration of synchronous and asynchronous
communication all under the same roof.


Wilson, B.G. & Meyers, K.M. (2000). Situated cognition in theoretical and practical content. In
Jonassen, D (Ed.), Theoretical Foundations of learning environments (pp. 57-88). Mahwah, NJ:
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.

This chapter focuses on the learning theory of SitCog (Situative Cognition). This theory tries to
take the ideas of behaviourism and information processing and combine and expand them into a
great theory of learning. In the SitCog learning theory the major idea is that learning must take
place in a community setting. Knowledge obtained independent from social or real world context
is not going to be productive in the greater learning environment. Construction of knowledge
takes place when it can be placed within the context of history and future goals of the greater
group. Students learn by participating in the community and its activities. This is what I believe
is what a virtual world is. A virtual world like Second Life is a huge social network that contains
many different social communities that students can interact with and learn from. This does bring
up the issue of values in social communities. Not all groups have values that match the learners,
and what happens with the situation occurs? Virtual worlds allows for students to be placed in a
variety of different situations that they have to make choices to be active in the process of
learning, and then they have to take responsibility in their choices in the greater community. Like
many educational theories the ability to research the impacts of using the theory can be much
more difficult than measuring the results of a more scientific study, and SitCog is even more
difficult to study due to the relative newness of the theory and the very social aspects of the
theory. This would also prove true for research in the application of educational theory in virtual
theories. This chapter fits in very well with the Information, knowledge and learning: Rethinking
epistemology for education in a digital age key note speech in the idea that in the future
knowledge is going to be digital and virtual worlds is one major location that all this knowledge
can be stored. The idea of attention being power can take a whole new meaning in virtual worlds,
because of the abilities to advertise islands and other content that learners can visit. If you have
been in Second Life you know that it is already a gigantic world, and it has barely even touched
the potential for distance learning opportunities.

				
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