A paper reviewing the design and success of a custom virtual world for online learning, with separately designed areas for each course.
Gives a good overview of social constructivism, based on the following tenants:
- learning is participatory;
- knowledge is social;
- learning leads development through predictable stages via shared activity;
- a useful knowledge base emerges through meaningful activity with others;
- learners develop dispositions relative to the communities in which they practice.
The paper goes on to define each of these more carefully.
The design and build of the virtual world is discussed, and feedback from students presented. The three dimensional virtual world appears to be used to allow the students to build and create things that would not be possible in real life, allowing for situated learning. The focus seems to be on building a 'community of practice', allowing students to mingle as would normally be possible on campus.
Interesting, but most useful for the discussion on social constructivism. Might need to follow up the references on that.