Design of Inhabited Virtual Learning Worlds, Role Play Simulations and Games
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Design of Inhabited Virtual Learning Worlds, Role Play Simulations and Games. Chi-Syan Lin Director, APEC Cyber Academy Associate Professor Institute of Computers and Information Education National Tainan Teachers College GSM: +886-932-830-451

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Design of Inhabited Virtual Learning Worlds, Role Play Simulations and Games

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Design of Inhabited Virtual Learning Worlds, Role Play Simulations and Games

Chi-Syan Lin

Director, APEC Cyber Academy

Associate Professor

Institute of Computers and Information Education

National Tainan Teachers College

GSM: +886-932-830-451

Schools, Tech: Still Struggling

Aug. 29, 2002

Educational Sites Given Short Shrift by Students

USA TODAY 2/21/2000

Spending more time on fun and games than schoolwork

Web-Based Learning Environment

It’s a failure so far.

What we need are immersed learning environments and community-rich networked learning content.

The Problems in Current Paradigm

  • Lack of Ownership and Identity

  • Lack of Learning Engagement

  • Difficulties in Communication

  • Lack of Learning Supports

Paradigm Shifts In Networked Learning Environments

  • Publishing

  • Communication (Synchronous & Asynchronous)

  • Inhabited Virtual Learning Worlds (Immersed)

The Answers

  • Telepresence

  • 3D Immersed Shared Virtual Learning Space

  • Intelligent Agents


Through the use of avatars, geographically separated learners are simultaneously present in the virtual environment.

The visual, gestural, and verbal interaction can be important to the development of unique collaborative experiences for learners.

Scenarios of Inhabited Virtual Learning Worlds

  • Meetings in a 3D shared space

  • Spatial Learning

  • Social learning

  • The use of avatars and real-time chat

  • Learning via 2d web pages

  • Taking Multiple activities at once

The Comparison of Communication Scheme


Scheme of Communication

Legends : full support ?: not full support : unavailable

NICE Project

Interactive Environments

Educational Objectives of IVLW

Active Learning

Learning Engagement

Interpersonal Interaction

Learning Community

Simulations and Games:

The Emerging Technology

Microsoft has claimed that visually based immersive simulations and gaming technologies are emerging as an environment for constructivist activities for engagement (Hinrichs, 2002)

These emerging media hold promise for increasing motivation among learners and keeping them focused on activity based tasks.

Learning in Context

The content and contexts embodied in simulations and games tend to reflect the interests, fantasies and aspirations of their majority user group. Put another way, simulations and games use technology to represent reality or to embody fantasy. They provide an environment in which action can be practiced or rehearsed with, ultimately, little consequence.

Simulations and Games Enable Students to…

  • perceive the real-world context for their learning

  • experiment dynamically with variables

  • compress time

  • explore in safe environments

  • practice skills

The Significance of Multiplayer Online Simulations and Games

Interaction and communication in hemselves are very important parts of online gaming.

Online gamers display social action patterns that are in many ways comparable to those known from the physical world. What should be clear is that gamers long for social interaction in games to a degree, which has not been met at all. It is also clear that for online worlds to be pleasant spaces for such interaction, one must look beyond classical game design and embrace hard-won knowledge from fields such as sociology and architecture. We need to design systems that encourage gamers to behave in the way that is compatible with general enjoyment. In other words, game designers need a rather sophisticated understanding of online social dynamics. The challenge is anything but simple.


At least there has been little success to date in the attempt to create an interactive narrative that is both fascinating and highly flexible. Greatest success has, in our opinion, been achieved in role-playing-games such as Baldur’s Gate.

For designers of online role-playing games, free choice seems to be all about choosing a character class. Their worlds are static and narrative shallowness is all around. It's a shame, really.

Pretty sights, but rather static

Dark Age of Camelot (Mythic, 2001)

Four Ingredients of RPS&G

  • Constructive Learninglearner-centered, active, authentic

  • Role Play-based Learning

  • Communication and collaboration within learning communities

  • Scaffolding Learning Supportsmoderators, adaptive learning resources

RPS&G Design Worksheet

Designers’ Tasks

Selection of Simulation Activity

Preparing Learning Objectives

Preparing Scenario

Preparing supporting materials

Moderators’ Tasks

Selection of RPS&G Activity

1. The task of RPS&G is really mental instead of body movement or drama acting and the demonstration of doing the task can be done by interpersonal interaction on Internet.

2. The RPS&G is composed of several stakeholders (roles) and it is likely that these stakeholders will have different points of view and interests.

3. The RPS&G involves learners who are assigned a role individually or with a team as one of the stakeholders respectively.

4. The RPS&G also involves moderators who are in charge of facilitating the simulation processes or coaching the roles played by learners. Moderators also could play the roles of stakeholders if necessary.

5. The roles in RPS&G will interact to each other collaboratively or competitively with communication tools.

Preparing Learning Objectives

1. What is the title of the RPS&G?

2. What are the learning objectives of the RPS&G?

3. What are the stakeholders? What are the expected learning outcomes of playing respective stakeholder?

Preparing Scenario

Scenario in the RPS&G is the driving context for the learning to happen. It is made up of a story, roles and events.

1. What is the cover story (initial or context scenario)?

2. Develop a featuring story and map the roles to characters in the story. The story should allow roles to proceed with the scenario dynamically in free form fashion.

3. Identity the RPS&G driving events in the featuring story that create the learning circumstances.

4. Develop the RPS&G events in details respectively in terms of role playing and goals in timeline formats.

Preparing Supporting Materials

Create web pages with supporting materials and learning resources related to the subjects of RPS&G.

Moderators’ Tasks

1. Release the cover story and roles in it.

2. Form teams online and assign roles to teams respectively.

3. Ask teams to develop their own featuring stories with the fashion of constructive learning. (inquiry-based and collaborative)

4. Ask teams to submit their role profiles.

5. Release RPS&G events and ask teams to start with the role play simulation.

6. Moderate the process of simulation and provide helps and facilitating whenever necessary.

7. Conduct a conference to debrief and wrap up the RPS&G.

Template for Role Profiles

(1) Role name

(2) Given name and family name of learners

(3) Character description of role played

(4) Define personal characteristics of role played

(5) Social status of role played in the RPS&G

(6) Circumstances that this role is in at the start of the RPS&G

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