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Type: Conference paper
Title: Dr Avatar: The New Face of Education in the Humanities
Author: Matthews, C.
Citation: The Education Research Group of Adelaide (ERGA) conference 2010: The Changing Face of Education, 24-25 September, 2010
Publisher: The University of Adelaide
Issue Date: 2010
Conference Name: ERGA Conference (5th : 2010 : Adelaide, Australia)
Statement of
Carol Matthews
Abstract: Virtual reality is having a very real impact on higher education. As a result, the face of today’s education is increasingly that of an avatar; an individual teacher or students’ representative on a computer screen. The MUVE (Multi User Virtual Environment) is certainly transforming learning and teaching due to its ability to engage students and provide an immersive, cost-effective learning experience in ways that books and even movies cannot match. This paper is divided roughly into three parts. Part one provides a brief outline of academics’ uses of virtual worlds before explaining the rationale for and objectives of a two year study funded by the Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC). Entitled “Getting A MUVE On: Developing Web 2.0 in the Australian Humanities” the project is trialling a MUVE in the Disciplines of History and English. The rapidly-expanding existing literature on the topic, for example is strikingly uncritical and based largely upon the American experience. “Getting A MUVE On”, then, is a critical study which seeks to identify the technology’s advantages and disadvantages within the context of the Australian university system. Part two focuses upon the first student assignment undertaken as part of the project in the MUVE: a reconstruction of part of eighteenth-century London—to our knowledge the first university History assignment to be conducted in a virtual world. As avatars, students in this upper-level undergraduate History course chose a building, garden or other space relevant to their essay topic, furnished it and displayed the research upon which they were to base the essay. In the process they customised their avatars and interacted with the virtual London, each other and the course coordinator’s avatar. The paper draws upon collated data including a Student Evaluation of Learning and Teaching (SELT) report, student journals and statistics, it also reflects upon the pedagogical and practical value of the assignment from both teacher and student perspectives. Part three takes the form of a brief tour of the virtual London and example student project. Early indications are that the MUVE may indeed be a useful tool for teaching and learning in the Humanities but in some surprising ways.
Rights: Copyright © 2010 The University of Adelaide
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Appears in Collections:Aurora harvest
History publications

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