This book attempts to advance scholarly inquiry and develop and share best practices in the use of virtual worlds for learning in formal, non-formal, and informal education settings. It supplies readers new to the field with an introduction to the current knowledge base in the domain of virtual worlds for learning while covering emerging trends and developments that will identify areas in need of further investigation, including opportunities for future theoretical and empirical research. The book provides a forum for research-informed, evidence-based perspectives on the educational uses of virtual worlds. It is intended to serve as a one-stop resource that is relevant and useful to a wide audience including teachers, students, and researchers, as well as administrators and policy-makers.
This eleven-chapter book is concerned with practical applications of three-dimensional (3D) virtual worlds in online education. It is thought to be particularly timely due to the current 'state of play' of virtual world adoption and use across the tertiary education sector globally (see, for example, Dalgarno, Gregory, Carlson, Lee, & Tynan, 2012; de Freitas, 2008; Kelton, 2007; Kirriemuir, 2010a, 2010b, 2012). For several years, there was a great deal of hype surrounding the use of virtual worlds in academia for learning, teaching, research, and student support. However, as this initial hype has subsided and the technology is now displaying signs of approaching maturity (Lowendahl, 2013, 2014), we are seeing a body of sound, evidence-based strategies and practices that has accrued over time as a consequence of ongoing scholarship.