Anticipating engagement: pre-service teachers’ perceptions of virtual worlds
Jacka, L & Hill, M 2018, 'Anticipating engagement: pre-service teachers’ perceptions of virtual worlds', in S Gregory & D Woods (eds), Authentic virtual world education, Springer, Singapore, pp. 135-151.
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The need to engage students has become a significant driver in how courses are designed and delivered in both universities and K-12 schools. Virtual worlds are a technology that is promoted as highly engaging and as such require our attention. At a regional university in NSW, students in the Bachelor of Education (Secondary) were introduced to new ways to conceptualise their future classrooms with an emphasis on emerging pedagogies and ICTs, including virtual worlds. A mixed methods data analysis was applied to 311 blog posts, gathered over a three-year period, to ascertain the students’ perceptions of virtual worlds. Significantly, 45% of all posts mentioned perceived engagement with virtual worlds by children as a reason to utilise virtual worlds in the classroom. However, the perception of engagement did not always correspond to the students’ perception that the virtual world would be effective in the classroom due to a number of barriers to implementation. Analysis of the student responses also highlighted the perceived connection between engagement and the creative aspects of virtual worlds. This research has implications for the design of pre-service teacher education with ICTs, more generally, and strategies for learning design that responds to the integration of ICTs such as virtual worlds now and in the future. These implications are also tentatively transferable to educators in general, not just pre-service teachers.