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'Good to use for virtual consultation time': Second Life activities for and beyond the technical and web-based English writing classroom

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This empirical study evaluates comments provided by first year undergraduate students from an English for Technical and Web-Based Writing (ETWW) course at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (HK PolyU) from the second semester of the 2009/2010 academic year. Students were asked to describe their experiences with an in-class task consisting of creating a movie poster, and then responding to and evaluating each other's work in a showcase area designed within the HK PolyU Second Life (SL) virtual campus. Sources of student comments considered included HK PolyU iFeedback forms and video-recorded focus group sessions. The information was then filtered for facilitation of other possibilities in language learning. The authors examine how these activities could be applied in a collaborative learning environment and other collaborative contexts. The goal of this study is to show the creative abilities of students from a technical writing course to think beyond the technical writing classroom. Creating activities of this nature can not only substantiate claims of practical applicability from a virtual world into the physical world, but also acknowledges the benefits of three-dimensional platforms over two-dimensional platforms. While some of the ideas mentioned (like creating and featuring films in three-dimensional virtual environments) are not novel, they are relevant in showing the quick adaptability of first year university students – many of whom have little to no knowledge of SL, and who tend to view virtual worlds simply as another 'game' – in creative thinking and learning. Additionally, the authors consider the relationships between extension projects and the in-class poster task, and the implications of these projects for a potential virtual Department of English.

Keywords: Second Life; collaborative learning; creativity; language learning; technical writing; virtual department

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Publication date: June 19, 2012

More about this publication?
  • Metaverse Creativity is a refereed journal focusing on the examination of creativity in user-defined online virtual worlds such as Second LifeĀ®. While such creative activity includes artistic activity, this definition should in no way be limited to artistic output alone but should encompass the output of the various disciplines of design - such as fashion and object design, landscaping and virtual architecture - that are currently all amply manifest in Second LifeĀ®.
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