Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The evolution of constructivist learning environments: Immersion in distributed, virtual worlds

Dede, C. (1995).The evolution of constructivist learning environments: Immersion in distributed, virtual worlds. Educational Technology, 35 (5), 46-52.

Abstract (retrieved Dec 5, 2007 from VLearn)

A review of psychological advantages and disadvantages of virtual environments within a constructivist learning approach and which properties of vr can be exploited depending on users characteristics.

Focusing on what participants want is very important to designing any type of learning environment.

Some personality characteristics of users:
a wide range of participants are attracted to cooperative virtual environments because they gain something valuable by collaborating together.
people who don't do well in spontaneous spoken interaction (e.g. shy, reflective, more comfortable with emotional distance). For them informal written communication is often more authentic than face-to-face verbal exchange. A new dimension of learning styles orthogonal to the visual/auditory/kinesthetic/symbolic categories now underlying pedagogical approaches to individualization.

Non-verbal context worlds offers:
disinhibition as a potential for learning in constructivist environments, since this creates cognitive and emotional dissonance that can undercut suboptimal mental models.
the fluidity of users' identity is a psychosocial dynamic of virtual environments that opens opportunities to encourage learning. Synthetic environments dissolve boundaries of identity enabling communication about very personal things through a depersonalized medium. Many aspects of this openness are quite positive from a constructivist perspective, as people often reject new ideas because they feel that their own identities are contained in their existing mental models.

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