Human behaviour in educational contexts can be facilitated and supported by technology enhancements. This thesis considers a virtual 3D world as one such technological enhancement and explores its use in supporting technology acceptance in pre-service teacher education. The adaptation of different educational technology tools can often be challenging for teachers due to negative perceptions, lack of experience and a fear of technology. This thesis investigates the role that immersion within virtual environments can play to change perceptions, increase experience with and overcome fears associated to adopting technologies n the classroom. For this reason, this thesis asks the following questions: What factors and indicators show a positive influence on the participants’ perceptions of learning technologies? Do the virtual world (VW) activities encourage more VW connections and interactions inside the VW? What are the pre-service teachers’ reflections on learning in the VW setting? How is the learning experience in the VW applied to the real world classroom practice? This study focuses on the use of classroom technologies in a pre-service teaching program at the University of Malta. PreVieW (Pre-service teachers Virtual World experience)is evaluated using quantitative, qualitative and social network analysis(SNA). The combination of these three methods is used to measure the extent of the VW’s influence as a medium in affecting the participants’ perceptions about classroom technologies and their behavioural intentions to adopt technology during teaching. The results show that the VW experience has an overall significant positive effect on the self-reported perceptions of technology. Factors affecting this result are perceived ease of use, experience and attitude, whilst social network graphs show that VW activities are responsible for social group formations. Participants attribute the strengths of PreVieW to its flexibility and learner-centric activities whilst finding the technical setup as challenging. Participants reflect on the cultural differences in the understanding of teaching and learning in the VW as opposed to a traditional classroom. Findings lead to a deeper understanding of the human-computer interactions in a VWset in a formal learning experience. Following this a model is recommended proposing the integration of a VW experience in a teacher education program together with a number of propositions to enrich learning in a 3D VW.
|Date of Award||2014|
|Supervisor||Ian Dunwell (Supervisor) & Sara de Freitas (Supervisor)|