Design principles of educational virtual worlds for preschool children : a case study of JumpStart World Kindergarten's pedagogical methods
DisciplineDigital Culture (maisteriohjelma)International Master's Degree Programme in Digital Culture
This thesis studies the design principles of educational virtual worlds for pre-school children. It examines the culture and contextualization of the virtual worlds for children used for the purpose of informal education through learning games in the case study of JumpStart World Kindergarten. The theoretical background provides an overview of the historical development of educational virtual worlds based on the progression of MUDs, MOOs and MMORPG. In addition, the issues in implementation and adaptation of information and communication technologies (ICT) as part of educational methodologies are examined, thus a perspective is given of possible problems and solutions for optimization of use of virtual worlds as an alternative way for acquiring knowledge with a constructionist approach. In the second part of the study, the design principles of virtual worlds are elaborated by framing the technical aspects, content, virtual world typology and user types thus mapping educational virtual worlds between other genres of virtual worlds. The design principles, as well as the cultural and social aspect of educational virtual worlds provide a base for the analysis of the pedagogical approach of JumpStart World Kindergarten. In this section a qualitative and quantitative study of this virtual world’s game-play, characteristics and learning games was made. The results indicated the pedagogical problems in the implementation of the learning by doing theory, thus proving that this model is not well adapted to the interactive method of learning where a player learns most efficiently by meaningful interaction and personal constructivist experience. ...
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