The Use of Virtual Worlds and Serious Gaming in Education
The use of virtual worlds and serious gaming in education is growing. Data are limited on the efficacy and mechanism of action of these learning platforms. Therefore, we focus our research and development activities on this field. In our first study, we explored 12 educational initiatives in the virtual world Second Life (SL). There we found seven learning activities in SL with added didactic value: exercising skills, demonstrating learning topics, building, organizing events, organizing exhibitions, meeting people in order to learn and supervision of students. All these activities included aspects of social interaction and collaboration between students. Based on the experiences in these initiatives, we constructed a checklist for teachers considering the use of virtual worlds in education. With this checklist, we developed the serious game 3D-Trivial Pursuit in Second Life. In this game, students exercise exam questions for their education. In our second (pilot) study we found that the Trivial Pursuit game triggered the intrinsic motivation to learning in students, resulting in increased well-being and decreased drop-out of students. The results suggest that the synchronous communication between students during the game triggers social interaction, which is prerequisite for the observed intrinsic motivation. These examples show how our institute uses the results of our research for the development of new learning tools.