Educators' experiences: the process of integrating virtual world technology in higher education
Araullo, Jonathan John Javier
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This study focuses on educators in higher education who had used, or are currently using, virtual worlds in their courses. The focal point of most studies with regards to virtual worlds is on the technology itself. There have been very few studies where the focus is on educators. It is important to include educators, the human component, as part of the conversation in the process of integrating technology in education. Through their thoughts, views, and the challenges they experienced in using virtual world technology, the educational community would be able to see where the strengths are and the issues that need to be addressed. This study interviewed 11 educators from different colleges and universities in the United States. The findings underscored the crucial role educators have in the successful implementation of virtual world technology as a teaching tool. The results also revealed that, given the high learning curve of the technology, these educators found value in technical and peer support to overcome obstacles as they designed and built their own virtual learning environments. As these educators spent more time with the technology, they became more adept and comfortable with virtual worlds. In addition, there is a need to create an environment of support for these educators to help these educators sustain their use of the technology. At the same time, it would encourage other educators to consider the use of the virtual worlds as part of their teaching. However, these are not enough reasons to convince other educators to use virtual worlds. Despite the benefits that some educators experienced from using virtual worlds, they refused to learn or deal with the technical aspect of the technology. There is no doubt that virtual worlds will continue to develop, given its history, but the educational community should take an active role in the technology's development most particular ways that would lower the high learning curve of the technology and that the technology would be able to support the educational process.
Thesis (Ed.D.)--Boston University