From virtual world to real world: learning to assemble a computer

Felix L C Siu
The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, China
Milton Ning Kon Ying
Ho Ming Primary School Sponsored by Sik Sik Yuen (A.M.) -- School A Hong Kong SAR, China
Sam Li Yu-wai
Tang Shiu Kin Victoria Government Secondary School -- School B Hong Kong SAR, China

Multi-users Shared Virtual Environments (MUSVE) have long been popular in the online games of this generation. However, it is seldom advocated by educational practitioners as a cognitive tool to enhance student learning. The MUSVE is developed by Active Worlds to provide artifacts for building a 3D world and a synchronous interactive scenario. With the feature of Avatar, it facilitates learners conducting collaborative learning and formulating a learning community in a virtual environment.

This paper presents a case study approach of adopting the MUSVE in local educational settings. The subject content of computer hardware knowledge and assembling a desktop PC will be acquired through the Contemporary Virtual Museum of Computers developed by Active Worlds. Students will have an identity (Avatar) in the Museum and have free access to the virtual learning environment (VLE). They can either form a collaborative learning group through a synchronous communication system or conduct their Self-directed Learning (SDL) with the scaffolding designed in the VLE.

The focus of this study is to address the feasibility and effectiveness of using MUSVE as a cognitive tool to tackle the academic diversities of young learners in the local context. Students will be given a pre-test and post-test to evaluate their learning effectiveness. A measure of Value-addedness on the use of MUSVE and the User Interaction Pattern (UIP) will be investigated. The learning strategies of MUSVE will be assessed to find out any correlation between students of different academic achievements and the acquisition of the DIY skills in assembling the computer hardware.

In this study, a survey and interview will be conducted to find out which features of the MUSVE will be an essential part for enhancing student learning. What prerequisites the local educational settings need to have to implement MUSVE in students learning will also be the interest of this paper.