We are conducting a research project with the aim of achieving better and more efficient ways to facilitate teaching and learning in Higher Level Education. We have chosen virtual environments, with particular emphasis to Second Life® platform augmented by web 2.0 tools, to develop the study. The Second Life® environment has some interesting characteristics that captured our attention, it is immersive; it is a real world simulator; it is a social network; it allows real time communication, cooperation, collaboration and interaction; it is a safe and controlled environment. We specifically chose tools from web 2.0 that enable sharing and collaborative way of learning. Through understanding the characteristics of this learning environment, we believe that immersive learning along with other virtual tools can be integrated in today’s pedagogical practices.
However, before we can apply and suggest best practices we need to get to know the virtual environments we intend to use (2D and 3D). We must characterize and understand how interactions and relationships are established, in particularly, between the users of this Multi-User Virtual Environment. We have made preliminary observations of residents’ behaviour at Second Life®, including some informal or natural learning contexts. Our analysis of those observations led strongly to theory of Connectivism approach, which is defined as a learning theory for the digital age.
This paper will present the outlined research and a literature review about the Connectivism theory and its application to the virtual environments.