“Technical, Pedagogical, and Cultural Considerations for Language Learning in MUVEs”. The authors of this chapter are Charles Xiaoxue Wang, Brendan Calandra, & Youngjoo Yi
The authors describe a study of the Multi-User Virtual Environment (MUVE) “Second Life” used in a facilitated manner to connect students in China and the US for the purpose of language learning. In this environment, users create a personal avatar which can move around through the virtual classes, meeting spaces, shops, recreational areas etc. that are part of the online environment. One’s avator can chat via text, use non-verbal gestures and receive documents. Most importantly for this project, VoIP allows users to talk (verbally) to each other in real time.
The integration of skills such as speaking and writing is important here, as the study indicates that students could draw on their stronger skill to support the weaker one. At the onset, specific tasks were assigned and facilitation was incorporated to ensure that distractions (which can be plentiful in this environment) didn’t get in the way.
The authors are very excited about the potential of this approach. There are many features of MUVEs that seem ideally suited to language learning and lots of ideas to be explored in the future.
This is from the “Elizabeth Tweets” series of chapter-by-chapter blog posts related to the 2010 book “Emerging Technologies in Distance Education“, edited by George Veletsianos and published by Athabasca University Press (including a freely available e-book version).