Open virtual worlds for open learning

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Continuing advances and reduced costs in computational power, graphics and network bandwidth have led to 3D immersive multi-user virtual worlds becoming increasingly accessible while offering an improved and engaging quality of experience. Many educators have seen the potential of virtual worlds for learning activities since 2003 when Second Life (SL) was launched. Much initial use reflected conventional practice such as online tutorial groups, presentations and lectures, albeit enhanced by the exotic nature of the surroundings and the users’ avatars. Although this type of use was relatively lightweight educationally it was clear that students enjoyed the social setting and engaged positively with the technology. This paper reports on further educational benefits from virtual worlds. In these cases interactive multimedia is augmented by virtual laboratories and complex algorithms can be interacted with and visualised in totally new ways. Through our experience of creating and deploying these facilities we have identified common needs of educators wishing to exploit virtual worlds and explain how to mitigate some of the challenges faced when adopting this technology.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 12 Apr 2012


  • Virtual worlds
  • open learning
  • exploratory learning
  • innovative learning environments


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