Collaborative science learning in three-dimensional immersive virtual worlds: Pre-service teachers' experiences in Second Life
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The purpose of this mixed methods study was to enculturate pre-service teachers into Second Life (SL), a three-dimensional immersive virtual world, and to measure their change in attitude towards the potential of SL for education. By completing collaborative assignments in SL, nineteen pre-service general education teachers explored an educational, marine biology island in SL and evaluated its potential for incorporation in general and special education curricula. A pre- and post-survey inquired about the participants’ perception of the usability of virtual worlds for education. Participants collaboratively explored the marine ecosystem of the Abyss Observatory (Nishimura, Lim, & Koyamada, 2012), reflected on its unique affordances, and designed activities for an inclusive classroom, framed by a pedagogical rationale. The difference between the participants’ two attitude scores generated by the pre- and post-survey was calculated and was found to be statistically significant with a large effect size. Results suggest that this 7-Step Virtual Worlds Teacher Training Workshop had a positive impact on the participants’ attitude towards integration of SL into teaching. Five themes emerged with regards to the unique affordances of the Abyss Observatory’s deep-sea area. Finally, the “Teacher-Prep Virtual World Six-Step Model” for effective pre-service teacher preparation for teaching in SL was developed.