Posts Tagged ‘virtual worlds’

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Shifting ontologies of a serious game and its relationships with English education for beginners

March 29, 2011

Just want to raise awareness of a series of papers to be published in a special issue of E-learning and Digital Media, Vol 8, issue 3, 2011.

The call for papers is copy-pasted below:

“Media: Digital, Ecological and Epistemological

Special issue of E-Learning and Digital Media, Editor Dr. Norm Friesen

Media today are everywhere. From educational gaming through portable e-texts to cell phones ringing in class, it seems we can’t escape. Nor can we live without media; instead, they form a kind of ecology that we inhabit. In addition, media have an epistemological function; they shape both what we know and how we come to know it: “Whatever we know about our society, or indeed about the world in which we live,” as Niklas Luhman observed, “we know through… media.”

Speaking of media in education suggests a range of possibilities that are different from what is suggested by educational technology (electronic, digital or otherwise). Describing computers and the Internet specifically as digital media casts their role not as mental tools to be integrated into instruction, but as “forms” and “cultures” requiring “literacies” or acculturation. In this way, speaking of media in education brings instructional environments more closely together with the world outside. Explorations of these terms and possibilities have been initiated by the likes of Marshall McLuhan, Neil Postman and Elizabeth Eisenstein, and they are also touched upon in research on media literacies. However, more recent theoretical developments and accelerated mediatic change –from blogging through networked gaming to texting and sexting– offer innumerable opportunities for further exploration.

This special issue of E-Learning and Digital Media invites contributions that focus on media, particularly digital media, and their ecological and epistemological ramifications. Specific topics may include:

  • School and classroom as media (ecologies) and the changing world outside
  • Digital challenges to media literacy and literacies
  • Media socialization and media education
  • Histories of media and education
  • The epistemological character of (new) media”

To see the draft of table of contents for this special issue:  Issuecontents ELEA 8_3_proof

Our paper:

Shifting ontologies of a serious game and its relationships with English education for beginners

Publication: Research – peer review › Article

This paper takes its point of departure in a language project, which is a subproject under the larger ongoing (2007-2011) research project Serious Games on a Global Market Place. The language project follows how the virtual universe known as Mingoville (http://www.mingoville.com/) becomes an actor in English education for beginners. The virtual universe provides an online environment for students beginning to learn English in schools and at home. This paper will focus on the shifting ontologies of Mingoville and teaching and learning situations in beginners’ English. This paper takes its point of departure in neither Mingoville as part of the media ecologies of the classroom, nor in the epistemological ramifications of Mingoville. Instead, it suggests that opening up the shifting ontologies of Mingoville (i.e. what mediates Mingoville and its relationships with doing beginners English) may offer a different and useful approach to understanding how Mingoville becomes a multiple actor. It reveals that such an actor both influences, and is influenced by, manifold constitutive entanglements involved in organizing English teaching and learning activities for beginners. Theoretically and methodologically, the paper, the empirical gatherings and analysis, are inspired by science and technology studies (STS) and actor-network-theory (ANT). The arguments and descriptions provided throughout the paper will focus on the shifting ontologies of Mingoville as it moves into, and out of, different teaching and learning situations of English for beginners.
Original language English
Journal E-Learning and Digital Media
Publication date 2011
Volume 8
Journal number 3
Number of pages 24
ISSN 1741-8887

Keywords

  • English education for beginners, e-learning, Digital learning resources, Virtual worlds, primary and lower secondary school, media and ICT, ANT (Actor-Network-Theory), Entanglement approach, Relational Ontology, serious games, Educational technology research

APA

Hansbøl, M., & Meyer, B. (2011). Shifting ontologies of a serious game and its relationships with English education for beginners. E-Learning and Digital Media, 8(3).
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Annual Night of Culture in Second Life

October 14, 2010

Tomorrow I am joining the Annual Night of Culture events in Second life. This interesting initiative is among other arranged by PhD student Marianne Riis aka Mariis in Second Life.

I was so fortunate to meet Mariis this afternoon in Second Life, where she briefly showed how she can change space so that in one moment it is a space for teaching and the next it is a Friday bar.

I find it very interesting that there seems to be an increase in arrangements of virtual/online conferences/conference activities using among other Second Life.

Today I recieved an invitation to virtual participation in next year’s AACE (Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education) conference.

This development within academia is definitely something I will pursue further, especially, as it could bring new options for gathering and engaging people from around the world in academic activities and research events, when viewed from an economic perspective.

The Nordic Virtual Worlds Network has published a series of interviews with experts on virtual worlds and the future of virtual worlds. These are available online and they are quite interesting.

See you in Second Life…

🙂 Mikala Afterthought (my Second Life resident name)

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Virtual Worlds – SERIOUSLY

October 7, 2010

As previously mentioned here, last week I did a presentation at the Virtual Worlds project’s workshop “Augmenting Reality in the Public Domain”.

It was an interesting day with good discussions on amon other the constructions of the “serious” in serious games and serious virtual worlds. I deliberately turned my title around to “Virtual Worlds – SERIOUSLY” because I wanted to indicate that there exist many ways to engage with virtual worlds seriously. I also wanted to insert that the boundaries between what makes a virtual world and a serious game are not very clear. They might in fact become partially contained in each other.

In my talk, the focus was on assemblages of relationships between education and virtual worlds. As previously mentioned here, CarrieLynn Reinhard and I went to Singapore in June where we met up with representatives from the InfoComm Development Association and people from two schools working with various initiatives to engage with and construct virtual worlds for both educational and gaming purposes.

CarrieLynn’s presentation at the workshop introduced how the government in Singapore is thinking strategically in terms of virtual worlds for tourism, and my presentation was more focused on what seems to mark the Singaporean mergers between education and virtual worlds (with the limited knowledge we have). I supplemented this with a focus on my research following how a particular virtual universe Mingoville.com moves and becomes moved in and out of schools, homes and other contexts dealing with education ‘in the world’ (i.e. in Vietnam, Singapore, Finland, Portugal, Norway, Denmark, Chile, Nigeria, China).

(Too) Briefly put, I suggested (and this is very much to be considered work in progress) that we are dealing with many different constructions of what it means to work seriously with virtual worlds (e.g.):

  • Built/designed/structured around/for serious purposes with learning goals/purposes
  • Used for serious purposes for learning goals / purposes
  • The imaginary that learning transfer happens from the serious game/gaming/virtual world engagements to other situations.

Furthermore, I explicited three variations as examples of approaches to serious engagements in virtual worlds:

  • Virtual worlds used for / engaged in  local/regional/periodic educational situations (e.g. secondlife.com and the Singaporean virtual world constructed for education and youth olympic games engagements. See CarrieLynn’s and my slides for examples and elaborations).
  • Virtual world / learning environment developed locally (e.g. for a school) with more long-term serious aims (e.g. several examples can be found in Singapore’s Future Schools projects that merge serious games, virtual world elements and LMS/VLE elements).
  • Serious games /virtual worlds developed for serious purposes with a broader scope/market (e.g. the world as market) and more broad educational aim – ‘educational oxygens’ (e.g. Mingoville.com and the Serious Games Interactive series). Those may include both shorter periodic activities and more long-term engagements.

These examples represent quite different ways to construct hybridities between serious games and virtual worlds, and how these can in various ways adress and become actors that augment different aspects of educational activities and thereby assist in solving/supporting various educational challenges in the world.

 I would love to get comments on my attempts to describe these matters.

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Augmenting Reality in the Public Domain (Free workshop)

September 6, 2010

I just want to raise awareness of this free workshop arranged by the Virtual Worlds research group at Roskilde University on October 1st.

“For the next Virtual Worlds Workshop, Augmenting Reality in the Public Domain, we have invited Professor Gunnar Liestol from the Department of Media & Communication, University of Oslo. Gunnar Liestol will present his work on Situated Simulations, a new mobile augmented reality genre. The day will also cover governmental efforts to incorporate virtual worlds in tourism and education in Singapore, a discussion on the concept of engagement, and future plans for reconstructing aspects of the Sea Stallion Journey in an interactive experience platform.

Join us Friday, October 1st 2010, 10:00 to 17:30, room 43.3.29, house 43, at Roskilde University. The workshop is open to all interested. Lunch is included so please register no later than September 24th to dixi@ruc.dk or phone +45 4674 3813.”

I will be presenting at the workshop together with CarrieLynn Reinhard, who is a postdoc from Roskilde University and the Virtual Worlds project. We were both in Singapore in June, where we met up with some interesting people from the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore to talk about their interest in educational virtual worlds. CarrieLynn has been writing about the meeting and the launch of the Singapore 2010 Odyssey here.

Ideas/constructions of augmenting/augmentation are very interesting to me. Augmenting/augmentation comes in many forms and arguments (e.g. better education, more real experiences, more fun, greater motivation, immersive learning), and these have been known to lie at the heart of much digital (serious) games and virtual worlds research and development. 

One thing is the imagined/envisioned roles of virtual worlds/VLE in education as providers of ‘better alternatives’ . But how are educational augmentations actually enacted with virtual worlds? 

I will be talking about educational virtual worlds and the promises and practices of augmentation.

With an outset in actual (empirical) cases, I want to discuss/open up the diversity of what lies in augmented reality experiences. Taking point of departure in different (e.g. Singaporean) enactments of educational virtual worlds I turn to concrete examples of how one educational game / virtual world (Mingoville.com) is developed, marketed and engaged with the ambition of providing better/augmenting opportunities to learn English for people (children) all over the world. 

Of course, when I refer to augmented here it is not in the same sense as for example Gunnar Liestol (one of the other presenters).

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Serious games and educational cultures

August 16, 2010

I guess it’s about time that I reveal in more details what my current research is all about… 🙂

My postdoc is part of a research project called Serious Games on a Global Market Place involving researchers from several Danish universities (i.e. The Danish School of Education, Aarhus University, The IT-university, University of Southern Denmark, and The Technical University of Denmark) and among other Danish serious games developers (e.g. Mingoville A/S and Serious Games Interactive). The KINO Programme Committee under The Danish Counsel for Strategic Research has supported the research financially.

My subproject is titled: Educational Cultures and Serious Games on a Global Market Place. The project focuses on following engagements with English education and the netbased virtual universe/serious game called Mingoville.

Mingoville.com is by its developers described as a “second language online-based course featuring fun English learning games, grammar, songs and more” for children. (YouTube videos about Mingoville)

Mingoville exist in 33 languages and registration in countries around the world is free except for Denmark. In 2005 Mingoville was developed by delc (Dansk e-learning center) as part of a Danish competition in developing new types of digital teaching materials for primary school in Denmark. The competition was led by the Danish Ministry of Education, and Mingoville was then developed for and targeted 3rd to 4th grade pupils and beginning English teaching and learning in Denmark.

Mingoville Classic (today “Learn Now”) was launched in 2006 and in June 2009 a Mingoville virtual world (today “Play Now”) for kids was launched in addition. Mingoville has (according to the developers) more than one million users across the world.

 

One example of the wide distribution and possible influence of Mingoville on English Education is an initiative (spring 2009) lead by the Portuguese Ministry of Education which distributed small laptop computers for all children in primary schools in Portugal. Mingoville is provided as a link among the programmes on all the laptop computers.

Another example is Chile. July 2009 Chile’s government launched an initiative associated with their ambition to digitalize the nation. In Chile approx. 2 % of the population speaks English. This is by Chile’s government considered a problem because English is considered a central foreign language on a global market place. In Chile a central problem is that they cannot generate enough qualified English teachers. One subproject of the government’s recent initiatives is therefore focusing on language and supports English teaching. The initiative is a partnership between educational institutions, companies and the government. The English project consists among other in educating English teachers in Chile in teaching English with Mingoville.

Also in Denmark more than 500 schools have been registered (by the Mingoville developers) as users. 

It may in a sense be viewed as something new that teaching materials developed in one country may become distributed and engaged as actors in variations of contexts of engagements all over the world. The big question of course is in which ways does Mingoville partially engage and become partially engaged as an actor (if it does) in English education? 

A huge challenge in the project is to engage with the manifold construction sites for Mingoville. Project Educational Cultures and Serious Games on a Global Market Place attempts to open up a relational study of different partially coexisting (dis-)engagements with Mingoville, and the associated entanglements, realizations and movements of Mingoville and English education. The study follows circulations of Mingoville as a partially existing (in a sense ephemeral) phenomenon multiple, which cannot be easily described in any one comprehensive way. To follow the circulations of Mingoville should here be understood as following Mingoville as an emerging and shifting form that becomes partially contained by and partially contains English education (if it does) in heterogeneous ways as it is moved around.  

The subproject must be viewed in relationship with the overall Serious Games Project and its aims.

My work is inspired among other particularly by STS/ANT researchers Bruno Latour, Marilyn Strathern, John Law, and Annemarie Mol.

In relation to other subprojects in the Serious Games on a Global Market Place other qualitative and semi-ethnographic studies have been conducted in Danish primary schools in 2007-2008. Furthermore a pilot study was conducted during a week in Portugal in April 2009 at a primary school.  These have focused on research initiated attempts to engage Mingoville in English teaching, and the effects of these.

My empirical gatherings consist of ‘online and offline’ studies of Mingoville as it is developed by Mingoville A/S in an office in Copenhagen, together with empirical gatherings in schools, homes, municipalities and governments ‘in the world’. 

Quite concretely I try to follow the movements and emerging circulations and establishments of Mingoville inside and across these manifold contexts of knowledges and engagements. Except for the fieldwork in Portugal (conducted with an experimental outset in a ‘would-you-like-to-try-Mingoville-in-your-classroom-approach’), my fieldwork takes point of departure in researching everyday (dis)engagements with Mingoville and include:

  • Mingoville in Mingoville A/S

 

  • Following everyday school activities and particularly English lessons with(out) Mingoville in a 7-9 grade special education class in Denmark

 

  • Following home education/teaching/training with Mingoville in two homes in Denmark and one home in Norway

 

  • Following (together with my colleague Bente Meyer) English with(out) Mingoville in grade 5 and 6 in a Finnish school 

 

  • Following (together with my colleague Bente Meyer) Mingoville into private homes of pupils in grade 5 and 6 in the Finnish School

 

  •  Telephone conversations with a number of schools in Denmark that have in one way or another (dis-)engaged with Mingoville

 

  • Following Mingoville (and other virtual worlds /virtual universes/serious games for kids) online

 

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Research methodologies for studying virtual worlds

August 11, 2010

I attended the 2010 ICA conference in Singapore in June. I was invited to participate in a panel discussion and present how I engage with researching the virtual world/universe Mingoville.com

CarrieLynn D. Reinhard (panel organizer and chair) together with Christopher Olson have produced a video from the panel discussion. The video and a short description of the panel can be accessed via the Virtual Worlds project’s blog.

Researchers Making Sense of Virtual Worlds: Discussion Concerning the Methodologies/Methods of Studying Virtual Worlds

Game Studies

Chair

CarrieLynn D. Reinhard

Participants

Interviews Within an Experimental Framework: A Potential on How to Make Sense of Sense-Making in Virtual Worlds CarrieLynn D. Reinhard, Roskilde U, DENMARK
 
Unpacking Participants’ Interactive Behavior and Discourse Strategies in Virtual Dialoguing Through Qualitative Analytic Methods of Investigation: Potential and Pitfalls Caroline Ho, Nanyang Technological U, SINGAPORE
 
Getting Informed: Researching Circulations and Establishments of a So-Called Serious Game Mikala Hansbøl, Aarhus U, DENMARK

Methodological Issues With Large-Scale Social Science Data From Online Communities Dmitri Williams, U of Southern California, USA 

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Making sense of virtual worlds and user-driven innovation

June 9, 2010

View keynotes and other really interesting resources from the workshop Making sense of virtual worlds and user-driven innovation held by the virtual worlds project at RUC. Also visit the new Nordic Virtual Worlds Network.