3D virtual learning environments: do they motivate or undermine sustained engagement? | The Oxford Review - OR Briefings

3D virtual learning environments: do they motivate or undermine sustained engagement?

Research Briefing

Keywords: Virtual learning environment, learning, organisational learning, motivation, engagement, learning engagement

IT based learning environments are evolving rapidly, especially with the advent and rapid development of virtual reality (3D) technologies. Many higher educational institutions and organisations are experimenting and testing new technologies for their learning capabilities on an ongoing basis. One of the oldest, but most prevalent, 3D multiuser virtual world environments is Second Life, which is being used continually for learning purposes in the education and training sectors.

One of the continual criticisms of IT-based and online learning is that many organisations and educational institutions are just using technology as a form of knowledge dumping, rather than promoting the development of decision-making, creativity, critical thinking and foresight. There are exceptions to this generalisation, however recent studies have found that the vast majority of organisational and educational learning management systems are used for knowledge transfer, as opposed to skills and thinking development. Whilst many IT- based learning systems have progressed from being a repository for PowerPoint slides and articles, the progression has only been towards the use of similar materials in video and audio forms of knowledge transmission.

Recently, however, universities and some organisations have been exploring the application of 3D virtual worlds in educational contexts, in order to promote better decision-making, critical thinking and creativity. In particular, studies in 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2017 have all found that 3D virtual world environments can provide immersive conditions for simulation, role-playing activities and help support work collaboration and creative endeavours.

A new briefing looking at the use of 3D learning environments has some interesting findings about the uses of them and what motivates sustained engagement in them. This study is very useful for anyone interested in learning generally and organisational learning using IT.

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