New Perspectives in Science Education

Edition 12

Accepted Abstracts

A Teacher Training on Geosciences in Virtual Worlds

Annalisa Boniello, University of Camerino (Italy)

Eleonora Paris, University of Camerino (Italy)


The research project focuses on the experimentation of a teacher training on the Earth sciences through an immersive learning using virtual worlds. The aim is engage science teachers to use new methodologies and technologies in geosciences education. The experience developed within the PhD in “Teaching Earth Science” at the University of Camerino, School of Science and Technology (Italy). Science teachers experienced immersive paths on geosciences in which they could communicate in a social virtual environment with other teachers. A 3d virtual island was built on a server at the University of Camerino with the Opensimulator software [1]. The immersive paths are built with simulations of scientific environments (volcanoes, magmatic rocks, 3d Earth, eruptions), animations, interactive objects. In the virtual paths there are a pre test and a post test for evaluating the perception and the level of involvement of the science teachers in the geosciences virtual paths. The science teachers experienced an immersive teaching, this mean a type of teaching that uses a technology in which a user through a screen has the illusion to live a real experience. Another fundamental aspect is the degree of presence that is simulated through the use of an avatar, a virtual representation of themselves. In this context, virtual worlds have a high degree of immersion and presence, therefore, their use is spreading as a socio-constructivist environment where teachers can use the learning by doing and situated learning. Virtual worlds represent an innovative strategy that must be experienced in teaching earth science to bring out the potential and prospects of use. The experience described in this paper focuses on the potential use of virtual worlds for the development of scientific skills. The effectiveness of the use of 3D virtual environments for science education is today shared in the literature [2] [3] [4] .  [1] .  [2] Aldrich, C., (2005), Learning by doing: A comprehensive guide to simulations, computer games, and pedagogy in e-learning and other educational experiences. San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer. [3] Dawley, Lisa, and Chris Dede, (2014) "Situated learning in virtual worlds and immersive simulations." Handbook of research on educational communications and technology. Springer New York, 723-734. [4] Dickey, M. D. (2003). Teaching in 3D: Pedagogical affordances and constraints of 3D virtual worlds for synchronous distance learning. Distance Education, 24(1), 105–121

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