Toe in the water: Toward a topology of instruction and instructional design for 3D virtual worlds

Concurrent Session 5

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Brief Abstract

What is needed to develop a topology of instruction and instructional design for 3D virtual worlds? A beginning, a toe in the water, is to discover a variety of uses of 3D virtual world, unpack the instruction and uncover the instructional design models and a topology begins to emerge. 

Presenters

Ph.D., abd Instructional Design for Online Learning M.Ed. Instructional Design & Technology B.S. Computer Science Storytellers…..that’s what we are, we designers of training, teachers of tomorrow….we are today's storytellers. We’ve added to our palates hues of technology and textures of digital wonders. We weave stories, dancing behind the masks of our avatars, singing ancient rhythms to modern hearts. But at the core of the matter, we touch the hearts and minds of our learners with ideas, with inspiration, with delighted discovery. We use any tool necessary, holding a book or a bug, soaring through the skies in a movie, or exploring worlds we could not visit through our computers to open the world to our learners. I am a gifted storyteller. I am an innovative solutions finder. I am an empowerer of human beings. Insatiable curiosity, joy, and kindness define me. I am currently the Associate Director of Instructional Design Services at Texas A&M University – Central Texas. My instructional design experience spans a broad spectrum across oil and gas industry, technology, healthcare, government, military, and education.

Extended Abstract

What is needed to develop a topology of instruction and instructional design for 3D virtual worlds? A beginning, a toe in the water, is to discover a variety of uses of 3D virtual world, unpack the instruction and uncover the instructional design models and a topology begins to emerge. 

My dissertation, "A qualitative case study of three professors and their courses in Second Life" lends itself to a continuation of gathering information on how 3D virtual worlds are used for education, what types of instruction are encountered in 3D virtual worlds. Delving into the instruction, discovering what learning theories underlie a specific approach to using a 3D virtual world opens up an array of diverse learning models and theories put into practice. With some collaborative effort, the diversity could be organized or grouped in ways that could reveal patterns, groupings. Looking into the specific educational instances in each grouping, the instructional design models used to design and develop education of that grouping could be mapped. 

 

Imagine arriving in a 3D virtual world location with a sampling of extremely diverse courses and types of instruction. Presented with an array of options, an educator or course designer could at first feel like the proverbial kid in a candy store. But with some searching, reflection, and contemplation, he or she would settle on one flavor. Opening up that flavor group, she could look inside to see the mapping of instructional design models and theories utilized to produce the desired form of education. Having a topology helps educators in much the same way that maps assist navigators. 

This research, my dissertation expected to be published in spring 2017, is just a toe in the water, a beginning, intended for follow-up to develop a robust topology of instruction and instructional design for 3D virtual worlds. My 3 part, single unit case study is based on Yin's multi-unit single case, case study approach articulated in Case study research: Design and methods, 4th ed. (2012). Cresswell's Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five approaches, 3rd ed. (2013) significantly informed my thinking and my conceptualization of what is possible in qualitative research and how to approach the discovery of the desired information. My specific research design is a variant of the three interview model described by Smith, Flowers, & Larkin (2009). My modification of the three interview model begins with a semi-structured interviews using the approach articulated by Smith, Flowers, & Larkin (2009). A thorough study of digital artifacts of the course uses approaches discussed in Digital anthropology, Horst & Miller Eds. (2012), replaces the second interview. The third and final interview is also a semi-structured interview with plenty of flexibility built into the interview process to allow the professor opportunity to articulate ideas he or she has gained from designing, developing, and presenting a college course in  Second Life. Both sets of interview questions were informed by Learning from strangers: The art and method of qualitative interview studies by Weiss (1994) and Interviewing as qualitative research by Weiss (2013). The analysis approach in my research is informed by Analyzing social settings: A guide to qualitative observation and analysis (4th ed.) (2006) with specific input from Miles, Huberman, & Saldaña's Qualitative data analysis: A methods sourcebook (3rd ed.). The analysis is shaped around uncovering the utilization of instructional design models and theories, whether purposeful or not. The courses were also analyzed for learning theories utilized by the courses.

Part of the desired outcome of the research is a beginning of considering how instruction in 3D virtual worlds could be organized with the different types of instruction grouped by outcome (presentation) and by underlying learning theories. The courses, with their identified learning theories, are mapped to instructional design models and theories utilized. The other part of the desired outcome is a comparison of instructional design theories used for 3D virtual worlds compared with those used for face to face instruction or with those used for online instruction. This part is intended to reveal the existence of potential instructional design theories or models unique to 3D virtual worlds. This research is intended to be followed up by research used to develop a topology of instruction and instructional design in 3D virtual worlds. 

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