Meeting Learners’ New Value Equation in Education Through the Virtual World

By George B. Burton.

Published by The Learner Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Virtual worlds are growing explosively—a reported 11+ million users in Second Life (SL) alone. By 2011, it is estimated 80% of all Internet users will have some form of 3D virtual identity. Simultaneously, our progressively interconnected society is having a significant effect on learners and their expectations of the learning economy.
Faced with these dynamics, how do educational institutions meet the changing needs of learners and integrate the technology that learners value to support teaching and learning? Loyalist College is responding with a move to redefining how and where learning is facilitated. Using interactive media, it is taking the classroom to a new frontier. Loyalist embarked on an innovation in 2006 earning it the title as the first Canadian college to build a campus and teach in the virtual world of SL. Extending the natural campus into the virtual world is enhancing learners’ experiences, augmenting course materials and facilitating the learning experience beyond the traditional classroom, laboratory and shop.
These developments help meet learners’ demand for a new value equation in education. Markedly different from the traditional model, learners are engaged in the learning process as active participants, collaborating to ensure content is timely, relevant and memorable. The virtual world provides an exciting mode of delivery, fostering creativity in faculty as they develop content suitable for this medium. The simulation and role-play capabilities facilitate the creation of learning environments not accessible in the real world, enabling professors to take learners out of the classroom and into scenarios and situations learners will encounter in their professional careers. A shift that is resulting in increased engagement.
With its leading presence in SL, Loyalist is collaborating with other postsecondary institutions worldwide on the future of education and the use of this essential tool that is having transformational effects on teaching and learning.

Keywords: Learner, Value, Education, Virtual World

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 15, Issue 12, pp.169-174. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 514.821KB).

George B. Burton

Vice President, Enrollment Management and Student Services, Loyalist College, Belleville, Ontario, Canada

George Burton joined Loyalist College in 2005 as Vice President of Enrolment Management and Student Services. His focus on implementing learner-centered strategies has resulted in increased student enrolment, enhanced student engagement and improved student success and retention rates at this Canadian post-secondary institution. Prior to joining Loyalist College, Mr. Burton was the Executive Vice-President at Harris Media Systems, a large multi-national media research and software development and data service company. He has also held progressive positions at George Brown College and Canadore College in Ontario, Canada. Mr. Burton has broad experience implementing and directing technology changes within organizations by utilizing a combination of creative and practical hands-on approaches. Possessing a strong service focus and results orientation, he is recognized as a relationship builder linking education, business and industry.

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