Ferguson, Rebecca; Sheehy, Kieron and Clough, Gill (2010). Introduction: challenging education in virtual worlds. In: Sheehy, Kieron; Ferguson, Rebecca and Clough, Gill eds. Virtual Worlds: Controversies at the Frontier of Education. Education in a Competitive and Globalizing World. Hauppauge, N.Y: Nova Science Publishers.
This chapter sets a context for the book and consequently for the subsequent chapters. It highlights the rapid rise of interest in virtual worlds from educationalists and researchers and the immense scale of these new frontiers of social interaction. The chapter presents a definition of a virtual world and proposes four categories that may be used when analysing the impact of this development on education: Reproduction of the physical form, Reproduction of the values, Versioning and Counterpoint. Each of these categories is discussed in turn and the argument is developed that education within virtual worlds has the potential to change our understanding of education. This controversial position creates a backdrop for an overview of the themes of each chapter within the book. The chapter concludes that the traditional roles and identities of learners and teachers are being redefined through opportunities and experiences provided by virtual spaces. New practices are being developed, which offer insights into a pedagogy that is authentic, inclusive and enjoyable.