The February/March issue of Innovate Online has a number of articles of interest for readers of this blog. To read these articles, you need to register, which takes about a minute. Then the full text is made available in a variety of formats.
Len Annetta, Marta Klesath, and Shawn Holmes describe how avatars in virtual learning environments (VLEs) can contribute to the learning experience by giving students a sense of social presence and investment in the learning community that may otherwise be difficult to access. VLEs have the potential to become the next generation of instructional tools for online learning. By allowing students to simulate the campus experience online, VLEs offer rich, flexible class environments without compromising their reach to diverse students desiring online courses. Describing studies carried out in the WolfDen VLE, Annetta, Klesath, and Holmes examine how gaming and avatars are engaging online students and the role personality may play in a student’s selection of an avatars.Lydia Arnold explores how work-based learners can embrace technology-enabled ways of learning. The case study of the BA (Honours) Learning Technology Research (BA LTR) program at Anglia Ruskin University, United Kingdom , shows how a unique learning blend that combines online social learning, work-based learning, inquiry-led learning, and high degrees of personalization can be used to enable and empower learners. Additionally, Arnold illustrates the unique characteristics of the BA LTR program and the role that these play in enabling work-based learners to participate fully in learning. The article explores the role of the work-based context as both a source of motivation and an authentic learning environment for BA LTR learners.