Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Revealing the didactic character of imagery in a virtual world: Virtual learning in the three-dimensional animated environment of Second Life
by Han, Hsiao-Cheng, Ph.D., Northern Illinois University, 2010, 351; 3419534
Abstract (Summary)

Humans rely heavily on their sense of vision and look at images in response to their need for information. People learn from didactic images within environments; for this reason, in traditional educational environments, educators tend to care about visual representation. As today’s technology brings images to wider audiences with more diverse cultural backgrounds in the virtual world global community, the process of automatic cognition helps people build new knowledge based on prior regional experience. When students are in school, they continually learn from the whole environment. Therefore, when educators employ a technology like Second Life to deliver education, any virtual location where educators hold class becomes a classroom and the whole virtual world can be seen as a school.

The main question addressed by this research is: What is the didactic character of imagery in the 3D animated virtual world of Second Life? The research methodologies include observations, surveys, and interviews. The researcher used the mixed method of concurrent triangulation strategy for this research: both qualitative and quantitative data were important to this research. The researcher also used axial coding for data coding.

There are five major findings in this research and they are interconnected: (1) visual learning is important, (2) cultural experience influences visual perception, (3) double-coding mediates digital imagery, (4) the research contradicts previous claims, and (5) a Third Culture exists in the virtual world.

Although most participants agreed that the imagery in Second Life is fictional, the survey and interview data show that users do learn from imagery in the virtual world. The didactic character of imagery in the 3D animated virtual world becomes a hidden curriculum for its users. Learning visual culture in art education helps students and instructors understand the context of the virtual world. Because of the popularity of the animated virtual world and to make visual learning more transparent within all fields of education, it is important to promote the teaching of visual culture in art education.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Freedman, Kerry
Commitee: Lu, Lilly, Smaldino, Sharon, Smith-Shank, Deborah
School: Northern Illinois University
Department: Art
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: DAI-A 71/10, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Art education, Multimedia Communications, Educational technology
Keywords: Art education, Distance learning, Imagery, Second Life, Third culture, Virtual learning, Visual culture, Visual learning
Publication Number: 3419534
ISBN: 978-1-124-19527-8
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