An important virtual world design principle is that the participant (not the teacher) must be positioned at the center of the learning experience--a 360 degree immersion in an learning experience. Thus the term Virtual Immersive Environment (VIE)
Unlike the classroom-based “Sage on the Stage” model where the teacher imparts knowledge upon the passive learning consumer, in a 3D Learning Experience, the participant must be actively engaged. Within the environment, the learner's actions and interactions must have consequential outcomes within the learning experience itself.
In virtual world learning, the locus of control moves from the instructor or teacher to the learner and the contextual design must accommodate the actions and interactions that participants have within the immersive environment. Learning objectives are not covered conversationally, but experienced viscerally. In 3D Learning Experiences, participants become a component in the design of the learning experience itself (which requires a different approach from instructional designers)
In a typical classroom setting objectives are introduced, explained via illustration or example and processed via conversation. In a 3D Learning Experience, situations are encountered, experienced and learning is synthesized as a part of the experience itself. Content and process are fused to the point where the distinction between learning and doing becomes almost imperceptible.
In placing the learner at the center of the design and in exploring how to bring the learning objectives to life via participant activity, Instructional Designers can discover new possibilities and approaches to improve and enrich the participant’s learning experience.
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