Guest Editorial Preface: Special Issue on "Real Education in Virtual Worlds"

Yu-Ju Lan, Mark Lee, Tianwei (Tim) Xie

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialpeer-review


Three-dimensional (3D) virtual worlds such as Second Life, OpenSim, and Active Worlds and the pedagogical opportunities they offer have generated a considerable amount of interest and dialogue among educators and educational researchers in recent years. Advances in computer graphics capabilities as well as increases in available computational power and networking speeds have significantly improved access to the technology in recent times; continued developments in areas such as multiple sensorial media (MulSeMediaâ€Â'see Ghinea, Andres, & Gulliver, 2011) will only serve to further enhance the possibilities. Although stories, anecdotes, and vignettes of the successful use of virtual worlds in education abound, there are calls for the establishment of a solid empirical base demonstrating the achievement of actual, tangible benefits and outcomes in order to justify continued investment by institutions, organizations, and governments. At the same time, researchers and evaluators are in need of theoretical frameworks and models on which to base their investigative efforts, while teachers and designers require evidence-based guidelines to inform their practice in this ever-evolving area. It was a desire to target these needs that formed the main impetus for this special issue of IJVPLE on “Real Education in Virtual Worlds.â€Â� The issue has been created in conjunction with the International Workshop of the same name, which was held as part of the 2011 International Conference on Computers in Education (ICCE) in Chiang Mai, Thailand (see Lan, 2011). Researchers and practitioners from a range of disciplinary backgrounds and working in diverse areas of scholarship, including but not limited to delegates and presenters at the ICCE Workshop, were invited to contribute manuscripts. Following a rigorous review and revision process, eight articles were ultimately selected for publication in this issue. Each of these articles examines and addresses important theory, research, and/or practical issues related to the educational use of virtual worlds. It is hoped that collectively, they will serve as a useful knowledge base and source of information about how virtual words can and be used to effectively support learners and learning in a variety of contexts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)i-iii
JournalInternational Journal of Virtual and Personal Learning Environments
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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