Meaningful learning and creativity in virtual worlds

Teen-led arhaeology session on Schome ParkI developed the paper, ‘A sea of colour: using virtual worlds to inspire and empower young learners’, that I presented in Gothenburg at Internet Research 11.0 , and in October 2011 it was published.

Ferguson, Rebecca (2011). Meaningful learning and creativity in virtual worlds. Thinking Skills and Creativity, 6(3), pp. 169–178.

Abstract

Virtual worlds open new possibilities for learners, prompting a reconsideration of how learning takes place, and setting education in a context of playfulness, delight and creativity. They provide environments in which it is not only possible but also necessary to generate and try out ideas. They therefore offer opportunities to explore new possibilities related to teaching and learning about creativity and to challenge assumptions about the creative capabilities of young learners. The research reported here focuses on a group of teenaged learners who worked together online in the virtual world of Second Life®, as well as using other online tools. It applies thematic analysis to a 120-post forum discussion carried out over two weeks, in which 19 learners and educators debated how to develop their virtual island, and sets this discussion in the context of ongoing interaction within this group. Their focus widened from building plans to cover the creation and maintenance of a community, creatively synthesising considerations relating to environment, ethics, governance, aesthetics and purpose. The teenagers’ creativity when dealing with this authentic problem extended well beyond the elements identified by England’s National Curriculum, and was supported by staff’s active and supportive engagement in the debate.

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