Teaching Visual Learning through Virtual World: Why Do We Need a Virtual World for Art Education?

By Han, Hsiao-Cheng (Sandrine | Art Education, November 2015 | Go to article overview

Teaching Visual Learning through Virtual World: Why Do We Need a Virtual World for Art Education?


Han, Hsiao-Cheng (Sandrine, Art Education


Hello, everybody. Welcome to my Civic Learning Space (see Figure 1 ). Let me guide you through this 3-D virtual space I have designed for civic education. The learning space is divided into three areas. At your right is the Civic Knowledge Ark. It is a place where students can develop a basic knowledge of citizenship and civic society. It is designed in the shape of a ship instead of a traditional classroom to symbolize the search for truth in the sea of knowledge. We will use this ship to go on adventures in the virtual world and to have valuable field trip experiences. The Civic Learning Studio is located next to the knowledge ark. The learning studio is the most fanciful part of this space and is, like the Universal Studios theme park, a place where students can use role-play to explore different roles in civic studies. The Civic Research Center Circle is a place for teachers and students who have an interest in and passion for civic research to discuss issues such as gender, class and race, and to conduct civic studies with freedom and equality. Now, we are going to experience these fantastic places. (C. Liu, teaching demonstration, March 13,2013)

The Civic Learning Space is a student course project, created and maintained in the University of British Columbia Virtual Commons for Education and Research (VCER). The purpose of this project is to learn how travel and building experiences in virtual learning environments can influence students' visual learning. In this course, students created learning environments based on their subject specialities, which included math education, language education, civic education, and music education.

Background

The 3-D virtual world is full of educational possibilities. According to Dickey (2005), "educational MOOs (Multiple User Domains Object Oriented) promote an interactive style of learning, collaboration opportunities, and meaningful engagement across time and space" (p. 440). Another powerful effect of the 3-D animated virtual world is visual stimulation. The visually animated environment of the virtual world captures the interest of students who are already digital natives, making them willing to spend more time in the 3-D learning environment (Carpenter, 2009; Sweeny, 2009). Everything students do in the virtual world can be a learning experience, and learning by doing or learning by seeing fosters self-directed learning (Garris, Ahlers, & Driskell, 2002; Dewey, 1934); a detailed discussion of this can be found in the section titled Virtual-World Experiences: Observations and Hands on Practice.

This article discusses the process and outcome of the University of British Columbia EDCP 585D Winter Term 2 course, Seminar in Curriculum and Pedagogy: Visual Learning in 3-D Animated Virtual Worlds. This course used virtual worlds as learning environments for education and focused on the importance of learning through the visual in the virtual world. Through this course, students examined theories of visual learning, which included cognitive psychology in visual learning, visual literacy, visual communication, new media theory of visual culture, semiotics in the virtual world, and ethics and plagiarism in imagery. Students created virtual learning spaces in accordance with visual-learning principles and presented teaching demonstrations in the virtual world.

Why Virtual Worlds? Aren't There Other Options?

What are virtual worlds and why were virtual worlds chosen instead of other technologies for this course? Creating a feeling of shared physical presence online has been a dominant goal in educational technology (Ichinose, 2010; Picciano, 2002). Today's most popular online voice chatting software, Skype, allows premium members to connect with only a maximum of 10 users per video conversation. When educators deliver online courses, the numbers of students easily reaches 20 or 30. Because of this volume limitation, Skype is not a suitable tool for delivering education online. …

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