by Garry Falloon*British Journal of Educational Technology Vol 41 No 1 2010
Summary and conclusion
Whilst acknowledging the limitations of this small scale study in terms of its ‘generalisabilty’, initial data suggests that when an inquiry learning model is combined with the use of avatar-based virtual environments for the presentation of unit outcomes, a powerful, motivating, and educationally valuable learning opportunity can be created for students. The important elements of this include the identiﬁcation of a ‘real world’ context upon which the inquiry can be based (and outcomes communicated), the adoption of student-led approaches to the identiﬁcation of questions or problems to be investigated, the use of collaborative small group or pair structures in the development of outcomes, and the availability of ﬂexible and ‘customisable’ software which best affords the opportunity to communicate outcomes in a way (and using content) suited to intended audiences. Within such an approach, data again suggests that clear opportunities exist for students to further their capabilities in the competencies of Thinking and Relating to others (Ministry of Education, 2007). However, the study also indicates that the extent to which this can occur is reliant upon the pedagogical approach and stance of the teacher in terms of their views on ‘ownership’ of learning, and their adoption of organisational structures such as collaborative groupings.
* Dr. Garry Falloon is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Professional Practice in the School of Education at the University of Waikato. He is also the head of research for the Microsoft Partners in Learning programme in New Zealand. His present research explores student use of Digital Learning Objects in supporting key competency goals from the New Zealand Curriculum framework (2007), and student work practices in digital classroom environments.