Rapanotti, Lucia and Hall, Jon G.
Design concerns in the engineering of virtual worlds for learning.
Behaviour & Information Technology, 30(1)
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The convergence of 3D simulation and social networking into current multi-user virtual environments has open the door to the new forms of interaction for learning to complement face-to-face and Web 2.0-based systems. Yet, despite a growing user community, design knowledge for virtual worlds remains patchy, particularly when it comes to an understanding of the particular nature of design in virtual environments, the relationship between virtual and real-world contexts of design, as well as the engineering issues it raises, and the management of any related risks. In this paper, we explore such issues based on our experience of the socio-technical engineering of a novel learning programme for higher education with a substantial virtual component. The project's significance stems from the large number of stake-holders involved, the relatively large-scale of the virtual world development, and the strategic significance of such a development within the learning programme. Of particular novelty is our exploration of the relationship between virtual and real-world contexts of design, indicating when they align and differ, showing when tools and techniques translate, and when new tools and techniques may be required.
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