Virtual Worlds for Designing Technology-Augmented Immersive Language Learning Environments
This study contributes to the affordances of using virtual worlds, in particular, OpenSimulator, for designing immersive language learning environments. Virtual worlds for learning accommodate a mutual dwelling relationship between the avatar and the self. The purpose of this study is to investigate language learning within virtual environments and to explore affordances of OpenSimulator for language learning. We are using design-based research to generate design solutions within this environment. Design-based research deals with complexity by “progressive refinement” that involves multiple iterations (Collins, Joseph, & Bielaczyc, 2004). These multiple iterations make it possible for the design to function beyond initial conditions of development. OpenSimulator makes it possible for foreign language learners to go beyond context boundaries to learn the target language as in the target language speaking culture without physically stepping out of their home countries. By providing a specific cultural context to foreign language learners, OpenSimulator may blur boundaries between foreign language learning and second language learning; by providing an opportunity to experience the target language speaking culture without physically being in those targeted countries, OpenSimulator may blur boundaries between real life and virtual life.