V-Learning: Distance Education in the 21st Century through 3D Learning Environments

Article excerpt

V-Learning: Distance Education in the 21st Century Through 3D Learning Environments, by Leonard A. Annetta, Elizabeth Folta, and Marta Klesath V-Learning: Distance Education in the 21st Century Through 3D Learning Environments , by Leonard A. Annetta, Elizabeth Folta, and Marta Klesath (New York: Springer, 2010, 182 pages, $110.66).

As an online instructor, I often wonder how I can present my courses in a challenging and interesting fashion while at the same time ensuring that my students learn the information outlined in the course syllabus. Plagued by this thought, it was not until I enrolled into a university and community college instruction class that I was forced to reach beyond my current knowledge base of online instruction into one that opened the doors to a virtual classroom. Much to my chagrin, this journey began through a book review assignment.

My book of choice, V-Learning: Distance Education in the 21st Century Through 3D Learning Environments, was examined from the perspective of an online instructor. Primarily, I wanted to find innovative ways to ensure that the online learning experience for my students proved to be informative and fun. Bearing this in mind, my disappointment in completing the book review diminished and I began reading the book.

The book is divided into 1 1 chapters targeting specific topics related to distance education and virtual learning environments. Many of the chapters are supplemented with reference information, figures, and illustrative examples that make the contents of the book easy to read and comprehensible. In just the first few chapters, the authors' intentions to provide educators and readers with examples of how 3D learning environments can be utilized in distance education as an effective tool for educating students in the new millennium was quite clear.

Chapter 1 of the book introduces how distance learning has evolved over time along with the direction it is headed in years to come. Skills required to lead in the 21st century (i.e., play, performance, simulation, appropriation, multitasking, distributed cognition, collective intelligence, judgment, transmedia navigation, networking, and negotiation) is also discussed as a way to urge distance educators to prepare learners with these skills necessary in maintaining prosperity and stimulate economic growth through the application of technology and innovative ideas. The authors conclude that this chapter sets the stage for subsequent chapters and prompts the reader to consider how 3D multiuser environments and video games can significantly impact distance education and equip students with the skills needed in the 21st century.

Chapter 2 targets millennials and why they fail in distance learning environments. Millennials, often categorized as "Generation G" or the "Net Generation," are considered students of today who learn differently from traditional students. This shift in learning is influenced by the accessibility of web-based information found through computer-generated websites such as wikis, blogs, and Youtube. Contributing factors to students failing in distance education includes the course delivery, students' motivation, and the lack of "bells and whistles" used to liven up lectures. Additionally, the authors also summarize the findings from an article written in the Chronicle of Higher Education concerning a panel of millennials' views about distance education. When students were questioned about distance education, they indicated that it was not favorable because it was a language and literacy experience. When comparing it to face-to-face instruction, students viewed distance education better because it afforded them an opportunity to say things online that they would be apprehensive about saying in the classroom (p. 18). The chapter ends with a plea to accommodate the learning needs for millennials in distance education to ensure a successful learning experience.

Chapters 3 and 4 introduce the power of serious games in education and virtual learning environments (VLEs) in distance education. …