THE NATURE OF USING VIRTUAL WORLDS BY A CHILD AS A LEARNING PLATFORM: A Case Study


Ahmet BAYTAK


ABSTRACT
The development of new technologies is found inevitable and children interests toward online platforms and virtual worlds are rapidly growing. In addition, there is a consensus that use of technology for primary or secondary school education is effective for achievement and motivation. In research and practice there are many educational implementations of technology in classrooms that were found useful. Similar to most qualitative studies, the purpose of this study also cannot be narrowed down to a single sentence but the overarching aim of the study is to explore the nature of using virtual worlds as a learning platform during. The theoretical background of this study is rooted from the constructivism and constructionism learning approaches. Consisted with its theoretical framework, this study has followed a qualitative case study research method to explore the nature of the construct. The case is a bounded system that is narrowed to a single case (Merriam, 1988; Stake, 1995; Yin, 2003). There are various types of data collected within this system. Based on the data collected and the research-suggested case study data analysis approaches, the following themes were emerged; realty, learning by discovering, learning by design, scaffolding and chunking information, and real life desires. After using Whyville virtual platform, the aim of this study was expected to start new discussion on young children using more complex virtual worlds such as Second Life. Thus, the results of this study could be guidance for transmission process of children toward Second Life type of virtual worlds. Even though a further discussion may need about the nature of using the virtual worlds, the primary findings of these case studies suggest some practical implications for children‘s education.


KEYWORDS: Virtual worlds; Whyville; second life; children‘s learning; education technology.

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