Khe Foon Hew is an Assistant Professor at the Learning Sciences and Technologies academic group at the National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. His research interests include teacher education, online learning and technology integration. Wing Sum Cheung is an Associate Professor, also with the same academic group at the National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. His research interests focus on asynchronous online discussions, multimedia design and online learning.
Use of three-dimensional (3-D) immersive virtual worlds in K-12 and higher education settings: A review of the research
Article first published online: 3 OCT 2008
© 2008 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2008 British Educational Communications and Technology Agency
British Journal of Educational Technology
Volume 41, Issue 1, pages 33–55, January 2010
How to Cite
Hew, K. F. and Cheung, W. S. (2010), Use of three-dimensional (3-D) immersive virtual worlds in K-12 and higher education settings: A review of the research. British Journal of Educational Technology, 41: 33–55. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8535.2008.00900.x
- Issue published online: 20 DEC 2009
- Article first published online: 3 OCT 2008
In this paper, we review past empirical research studies on the use of three-dimensional immersive virtual worlds in education settings such as K-12 and higher education. Three questions guided our review: (1) How are virtual worlds (eg, Active Worlds, Second Life) used by students and teachers? (2) What types of research methods have been applied? (3) What research topics have been conducted on virtual worlds in teaching and learning, as well as their related findings? Overall, we found that virtual worlds may be utilised for the following uses: (1) communication spaces, (2) simulation of space (spatial), and (3) experiential spaces (‘acting’ on the world). Most of the studies reviewed were descriptive and conducted in polytechnic and university settings, and past virtual world research had been most frequently carried out in the media arts and health and environment disciplines. Three main research topics were found: participants' affective domain, learning outcomes and social interaction. We conclude by summarising some major findings and discussing three limitations of previous empirical studies. Several recommendations for future research related to virtual worlds in education settings are also provided.