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David White :: Blog :: Multi-User Virtual Environments: What are they good for?

May 03, 2007

An interesting discussion took place in the MUVE carousel session I attended at the event last week. It would seem that at the moment MUVE can be read as ‘Second Life’ although this is probably just a temporary state of play. In any event SL is a good place to experiment and whatever we learn will be transposable.

Many people / institutions had islands in SL but as Steven pointed out we weren’t being all that collaborative yet. For me the area of MUVEs breaks down into the following points to consider:
  • Does using an MUVE give a more powerful sense of ‘presence’ / identity to those involved. Is this more powerful / useful than purely text based interactions?
  • If this ‘presence’ is (cough) present then in what ways can we use it in the service of online collaboration / socialising?
  • How can being immersed in an environment help the learning process at an HE level?
  • Is this best for distance students or could it be a useful tool in the ‘classroom’ as well?
  • Is this type of environment more, or less, alienating for students / tutors to interact with than other online approaches?
  • Is the level of skill and technology required to interact with these types of environments too high at the moment? Will they ever be ‘mainstream’?

This is just a starting point of course. I'd welcome comments...

In practical terms is can see MUVEs being useful for the following:
  • Creating immersive simulations
  • Recreating contemporary or historical real world environments that have an educational value
  • Developing new forms of collaborative projects, taking group work online to a new level
  • Providing a social underpinning to groups of online courses or a f2f campus / department
The last two points interest me the most and are clearly happening in a slightly different form in MMORPGs such as World of Warcraft. However, the first two points are probably easier to demonstrate as clear practical uses especially to those who have no experience of MUVEs.

Can I encourage anyone in Emerge who is interested or intrigued by these ideas to join the MUVE group on this site. Just go to http://emerge.elgg.org/muve and click on the ‘join this community’ link on the right hand side of the page. 

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Posted by David White


  1. I am still a rookie in SL. I haven’t even completed Basic Training yet…

    I still have troubles going around the Island…finding my way around. My GPS skills are not that good, you see.

    I don’t think it is a very straight forward tool. It takes time to master it, but there is also some fun in it. I feel more comfortable every time I go there.

    Concerning the pedagogical outcomes I still don’t have a precise idea on how it can bring huge benefits for the educational setting, but I know that some people are already using it and seem pleased with it.

    Conferences are being hosted there. There are a lot of Islands that you can visit for information and where you can mingle with new, different people.

    I am curious to know how the use of SL will develop in the HE realm. I can see potential where collaborative and cooperative approaches are concerned, but I am also apprehensive about the skills required to be part of this community. Like you mentioned, I do feel that the skills and technology required to interact with these types of environments are still too high. That can be a reason for some to reject it or become uninterested.

    Nevertheless, this is one more area that I would like to explore. I have joined the community.     

    Cristina CostaCristina Costa on Thursday, 03 May 2007, 11:01 UTC # |

  2. Don't you also think that SL could be used to create contextualized learning opportunities? 


    Cristina CostaCristina Costa on Thursday, 03 May 2007, 11:15 UTC # |

  3. Contextualized learning in the form of roleplay could be very powerful. I believe that some drama teachers use SL because of this.

    David WhiteDavid White on Friday, 04 May 2007, 11:04 UTC # |

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