An evaluation of implementing problem-based learning scenarios in an immersive virtual world

Maggi Savin-Baden, C. Tombs, T. Poulton, E. Conradi, S. Kavia, D. Burden, C. Beaumont

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    Objectives: This paper will describe a project adopting a pedagogical approach that implemented and evaluated a problem-based learning project in an immersive virtual world. The project involved an iterative process of testing scenarios using student feedback to improve upon the scenarios. Methods: The study used illuminative evaluation which is argued to take account of wider contexts than more tradi-tional evaluation and, is primarily concerned with descrip-tion and interpretation rather than measurement and prediction. The evaluation encompassed formative elements to inform the project team and summative elements to establish the worth of what was achieved. Results: The findings in many ways were more positive than initially anticipated, but there were also a number of challenges. The themes that emerged for the data were technological challenges, pedagogical design, usability and avatar identity, collaboration and Interaction. Conclusions: Students appreciated the value of Second Life as a collaborative environment, but also viewed such practice-based simulations as valuable for individual work. An interesting consequence of the richness and authenticity of the Second Life scenarios is the large amount of detail provided, much more than is usual in paper-based face-to face problem-based learning sessions.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)116-124
    JournalInternational journal of medical education
    Publication statusPublished - 2011

    Bibliographical note

    This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use of work provided the original work is properly cited.


    • Problem-based learning
    • evaluation
    • immersive virtual worlds
    • pedagogy


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