Introduction: Virtual worlds (VWs) are immersive three-dimensional environments, accessible simultaneously to multiple users, and described as shared, simulated spaces, whose inhabitants represented as avatars. VWs enable freedom of expression. Using VWs in educational contexts requires a shift from teacher-centered instruction to facilitation of student-centered learning practices. Method: This study explores the degree of teacher centrality (Sage-on-the-stage, Facilitator, Guide-on-the-side, or Partner), pedagogical strategies used in the integration of an Open Sim-based VW learning platform in face-to-face K-12 classrooms, and consistency between the perspectives of teachers and students on these topics. We conducted semi-structured interviews followed by observations of actual VW environments with 12 elementary teachers of different subject-matters and 11 fifth and sixth graders who learn with VWs. Findings: Although all teaching prototypes were present in the data, the most dominant teaching prototypes in the VW environment were ‘Guide-on-the-side’ and ‘Facilitator’, while ‘Sage-on-the-stage’ and ‘Partner’ were less frequent. The findings indicate that the most prevalent pedagogical strategies used to teach in VW-enhanced classrooms were Experiential Learning, followed by Training practice and modeling, Project-based learning, Game-based learning, and Collaborative learning. Minor differences were found between the perspectives of teachers and students regarding teaching prototypes and the degree of teacher centrality in the classroom. Importantly, both teachers and students positioned students as the main designers of learning activities in the VW environment. Implications: The findings of this pioneer research provide insights regarding the teaching prototypes and the degree of teacher centrality in the VW learning environment that can help improve teaching processes and professional training courses in virtual 3D environments.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The research was supported by the Research Authority Foundation, The Open University of Israel.
© 2023 The Authors. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
- Sage-on-the-stage, facilitator, guide-on-the-side, partner teaching prototypes
- degree of teacher centrality in the classroom
- pedagogical strategies
- technology-enhanced teaching and learning
- virtual worlds