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Engaged Learning in Second Life. Daisyane Barreto and Carrie Bishop. What is Second Life?. Second Life is a virtual world . Virtual worlds are: “a networked desktop reality in which users move and interact in simulated 3D spaces” (Dickey, 2005).

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engaged learning in second life

Engaged Learning in Second Life

Daisyane Barreto


Carrie Bishop

what is second life
What is Second Life?
  • Second Life is a virtual world.
  • Virtual worlds are:
    • “a networked desktop reality in which users move and interact in simulated 3D spaces” (Dickey, 2005).
    • Characterized by “the ability of residents to generate creations of value within a shared, simulated 3D space” (Ondrejka, 2008).
what does second life have to do with learning
What does Second Life have to do with learning?
  • Second Life is gaining popularity, both with the general public and in the world of education.


It’s a whole new

(constructivist) world - online!

let s explore this new world
Let’s explore this new world!

We want to maximize the many opportunities in this environment, and still engage learners in the instruction.

so what s the purpose
So, what’s the purpose?
  • To learn more about student experience in Second Life when it is used as a learning environment in higher education.
why is this important
Why is this important?
  • Second Life is engaging, in part, because of its lack of an explicit game goal – the residents can be develop and create freely, using the tools in the environment (Ondrejka, 2008).
  • We need to find out: To what extent is this also true when Second Life is used for instruction in higher education? And in what ways can the instruction affect the learner engagement?
research questions
Research Questions
  • To what extent is Second Life successful at engaging higher education students?
  • How does the level of scaffolding affect the student’s experience in Second Life?
literature review
Literature Review

One recent study (Nelson, 2007) asserts:

  • Student’s exposure to guidance messages did not provide meaningful results in their learning outcomes. Why? One reason is that virtual worlds can be distracting.
literature review1
Literature Review

Other studies state:

  • In virtual worlds, there is a need to balance the context and narrative with the content so students don’t get too involved in the narrative and fail to engage with the content.

(Barab,S., Sandler, T., Heiselt, C., Hickey, D., & Zuiker, S. 2007, Paulus, Horvitz & Shi 2006, Shin, N. 2006)

literature review2
Literature Review

These studies indicate:

  • Exploratory virtual environments need more explicit and appropriate hints to communicate to the learner not only the content, but also what is expected from them.
research design
Research Design
  • Qualitative case study on two groups of students

One Instructor



research design class a
Research Design: Class A
  • Focus will be one selected book
  • Island in Second Life:
    • Setting and context of book
    • Characters, props, and other important items
  • No instructions or guidance
research design class b
Research Design: Class B
  • Focus will be the same selected book
  • Island in Second Life:
    • Setting and context of book
    • Characters, props, and other important items
  • Scaffolding: specific tasks and goals, instructor presence
data collection
Data Collection
  • Observations
    • Online, during synchronous class time
    • At least one individual participant from each class
  • Focus Groups
    • Members from each class
  • Interviews
    • With the instructors
questions or comments
Questions or comments?

Email us!

Daisyane: daisyane@uga.edu

Carrie : cncoker@uga.edu


Barab, S., Sandler, T., Heiselt, C., Hickey, D., & Zuiker, S. (2007). Relating narrative, inquiry, Education & Technology, 16(1), 59-82.

Bronack, S., Riedl, R., & Tashner, J. (2006). Learning in the zone: A social constructivist framework for distance education in a 3-dimensional virtual world. Interactive Learning Environments, 14(3), 219.

Dede, C. (1995). The evolution of constructivist learning environments: Immersion in distributed, virtual words. Educational Technology, 35 (5; 5), 46.

Dickey, M. D. (2005). Three-dimensional virtual worlds and distance learning: Two case studies of active worlds as a medium for distance education. British Journal of Educational Technology, 36(3), 439.


de Freitas, S. I. (2006). Using games and simulations for supporting learning. Learning, Media and Technology, 31(4), 343-358.

Lim, C.,P., Nonis, D., & Hedberg, J. (2006). Gaming in a 3D multiuser virtual environment: Engaging students in science lessons. British Journal of Educational Technology, 37(2), 211.

Nelson, B. (2007). Exploring the use of individualized, reflective guidance in an educational multi-user virtual environment. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 16(1), 83-97.

Ondrejka, C. (2008). Education unleashed: Participatory culture, education, and innovation in Second Life. In K. Salen (Ed.), The Ecology of Games: Connecting Youth, Games, and Learning (pp.229-251). Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.


Paulus, T. M., Horvitz, B., & Shi, M. (2006). "Isn't it just like our situation?" engagement and learning in an online story-based environment. Educational Technology Research and Development, 54(4), 355.

Shin, N. (2006). Online learner's "flow" experience: An empirical study. British Journal of Educational Technology, 37(5), 705.

Steinkuehler, C. A. (2006). Massively multiplayer online video gaming as participation in a discourse. Mind, Culture, & Activity, 13(1), 38-52.