Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Development of a Virtual Second Life Curriculum Using Currere Model

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Development of a Virtual Second Life Curriculum Using Currere Model

Article excerpt

Introduction

The idea of a virtual-world exhibition was inspired by a physical Vietnam War exhibit. The exhibition included collages of pictures and documentary videos that were designed by students in a doctoral-program curriculum theory course at a public university. The exhibition was next taken to a Curriculum and Pedagogy Conference. After the experiences with two exhibitions, the researcher extended this curriculum to a virtual world (VW) for increased multimedia and substantial curriculum.

The study utilizes two Second Life (SL) installations to deliver a meaningful curriculum on the basis of William Pinar's (2004) currere approach--a curriculum technique used to reconstruct social, intellectual, and physical structures. The study is significant in three ways:

* It contributes to research into SL and its application to the currere approach to develop curriculum.

* It demonstrates VW curriculum development.

* It contributes to the understanding of education major graduate students' perceptions of various perspectives.

The VW environment has been used in a variety of general curricula, such as science (Bainbridge, 2007), mathematics (Roussou, 2009), architecture (Clark & Maher, 2001), etc. However, little to no VW research has been conducted using the currere approach, the curriculum theory Pinar describes as "the interdisciplinary study of educational experience" (Pinar, 2004, p. 2). The currere approach is a curriculum technique used to reconstruct social, intellectual, and physical structures (Grumet, 1976).This is an autobiographic process used to develop a curriculum sufficient enough to engage students in self and mutual conversation, what Pinar (2004) and Grumet (1976) called complicated conversation and autobiographic narrative. This approach, if examined regressively, progressively, analytically and synthetically, can engage students in complicated conversation and autobiographic narratives. It also has the potential to elicit self-understanding and self-reflection thereby helping teachers and students to comprehend the true meaning of a curriculum. Research on virtual curriculum development in the currere approach has never been done. Hence, this research which used the currere approach to engage education graduate students in reflections on their perceptions, understanding, and professional development in virtual exhibitions, contributes to the research of virtual curriculum development.

Secondly, one of the purposes for studying virtual curriculum development is to demonstrate its theoretical and practical aspects. Some participants have had experiences teaching in primary and secondary schools. By using multimedia technology in VWs to deliver a curriculum, some participants learned to enlarge their knowledge of implementing curriculum in a creative way; some understood education can be done in synthetic, analytic, and dialogic ways. This demonstration eventually benefited some of the participants in their current or future teaching endeavors.

Finally, the participants experienced two past-to-future exhibitions, in which they were expected to extract their inner voice. The inner voice here reflects from the "historical and natural world" (Pinar, 2004, p. 37). A part of the study's contribution is to identify several perspectives for understanding how to use VWs to teach appropriately. By using SL as a visual-based and auditory-based simulated environment, this study adopted William Pinar's currere approach to examine students' self-understanding and self-reflection in order to achieve the true meaning of curriculum.

Research questions

The study specifically seeks to answer the following research questions:

* What are the participants' perceptions about teaching and learning in SL curricula?

* What are the participants' self-reflections and self-understanding in the virtual curricular demonstration? …

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