Responding to the widening participation agenda through improved access to and within 3D virtual learning environments

Denise Wood, Julie Willems


The Australian Government's widening participation agenda - also referred to as the social inclusion agenda - considers equity through the triple focus of access, participation and outcomes. These foci are catalysts for re-examining teaching and learning approaches in formal education. This article considers this national refocus and the possibilities for addressing access and equity issues through and within three-dimensional virtual learning environments (3DVLEs). The findings of an Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC)-funded project that investigated the potential of an accessible 3DVLE for increasing access and participation of students with disabilities are reported, and strategies for improving outcomes (i.e. retention, success and completion) proposed. The article also highlights some of the remaining challenges with regard to the goal of improving outcomes for under-represented learner groups. The final section of the article identifies areas for further research.

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