How do virtual world experiences bring about learning? A critical review of theories
AbstractWhile students do learn real-world knowledge and skills in virtual worlds, educators have yet to adequately theorise how students’ virtual world experiences bring about this learning. This paper critically reviewed theories currently used to underpin empirical work in virtual worlds for education. In particular, it evaluated how applicable these theories’ learning mechanisms are to virtual world-based learning. Eleven theories were identified from 80 journal papers. Four learning mechanisms were found to be applicable to virtual worlds: that students learn through reflection, verbal interactions, mental operations, and vicarious experiences. However, one commonly-implied learning mechanism was found to be inapplicable to virtual worlds: that students undergo a physical sensorimotor experience of the real-world phenomenon through their virtual world actions. An alternative theory is needed to explain how students’ virtual world actions might bring about learning, so as to help educators determine what exactly students can learn by performing virtual world actions.
Articles published in the Australasian Journal of Educational Technology (AJET) are available under Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives Licence (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0). Authors retain copyright in their work and grant AJET right of first publication under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. Users have the right to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of articles in this journal, and to use them for any other lawful purpose.
Articles published in AJET can be copied, communicated and shared in their published form for non-commercial purposes provided full attribution is given to the author and the journal. Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal’s published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
This copyright notice applies to articles published in AJET volumes 36 onwards. Please read about the copyright notices for previous volumes under Journal History.