Finding the discipline: Assessing student activity in Second Life

Scott Grant, Rosemary Clerehan


For the second-language learner, the affordances of a virtual world have the potential to confer benefits conventionally aligned with real world experiences. However, little is known about the pedagogical benefits linked to the specific characteristics of the virtual world, let alone the issues arising for staff hoping to assess students' participation in these worlds. This case study is based on a two-part assignment in a first-year Chinese unit at an Australian university, exploring the virtual world assessment practices of one lecturer. The findings, while suggesting the strengths of the assessment regime with respect to many of the affordances and to alignment with policy, highlight deficient aspects of the design and implementation processes which can relatively easily be addressed. The case study reveals the critical importance of sufficient scaffolding and support, feedback and appropriate communication of students' achievement to them in order to promote further reflection.

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