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Researching virtual worlds in school settings - LRDG Seminar

Date: 23 June 2009 Time: 1.00 - 2.00 pm

Venue: Bowland North Seminar Room 20

Guy Merchant, Sheffield Hallam University A DIGITAL METHODOLOGIES seminar

The use of virtual worlds in educational settings could well enhance or transform learning, but empirical research that investigates classroom practice is still in its infancy. Although a number of claims have been made about high levels of learner engagement in gameplay, and the construction of 'powerful learning environments' in virtual worlds, there is clearly scope for more empirical evidence in this area. This seminar will reflect on my research into avatar-based virtual world gameplay in primary schools, based on work which aimed to extend and develop literacy learning. Engagement with the immersive and textually-rich online environment we designed provided a context for a 'constellation of literacy practices', crossing between real and virtual spaces. My study used fieldnotes, chat-logs, in-world interviews and observations to analyse pupil and teacher interactions as well as their understandings of the digital literacies involved. Inflected by the new literacies approach, my work looks at t he educational potential of using online worlds to create virtual communities, and to promote new forms of situated learning. In doing this, it addresses a number of key questions concerning engagement with virtual worlds. These include: how avatar interaction can be used to develop literacy; how teachers can make effective use of virtual worlds in the classroom; and how researchers can make sense of the complex and fluid texts that are produced in these environments.

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Who can attend: Anyone


Further information

Organising departments and research centres: Educational Research, Lancaster Literacy Research Centre, Linguistics and English Language

Keywords: Literacies, Literacy


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Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Lancaster University
Lancaster LA1 4YD
United Kingdom

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