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

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Publication date: 2012-06-19

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  • In 2017 Metaverse Creativity is changing its name to Virtual Creativity, to reflect its content more accurately. Metaverse Creativity is a refereed journal focusing on the examination of creativity in user-defined online virtual worlds such as Second Life. 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 Life.
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