Call: Virtual worlds in tertiary education: An Australasian perspective

Australasian Journal of Educational Technology

Special issue 2012, Volume 28: Call for articles
Virtual worlds in tertiary education: An Australasian perspective

Submissions are invited for a forthcoming special issue of AJET to be published in early 2012, entitled Virtual worlds in tertiary education: An Australasian perspective, edited by Mark J.W. Lee (Charles Sturt University and University of New England), Dr Barney Dalgarno (Charles Sturt University) and Dr Helen Farley (University of Southern Queensland) for the DEHub Virtual Worlds Working Group. As announced in AJET Editorial 27(1) and to be publicised through various listservs and society news bulletins, Virtual worlds in tertiary education will be AJET’s third special issue.

Virtual worlds have generated much attention and interest among tertiary education practitioners and researchers over the last few years. Universities and colleges across the globe are investing heavily in the technology, with some making use of commercial platforms like Second Life to provide spaces within which to build resources and conduct activities, and others licensing or developing their own platforms for hosting on their internal servers and networks. While a number of other education and educational technology journals have published special issues centred around the topic of virtual worlds (e.g. Bell, Savin-Baden & Ward, 2008; Chandler, Collinson, Crellin & Duke-Williams, 2009; Hunsinger & Krotoski, 2010; Rea, 2009; Salmon & Hawkridge, 2009; Steinkuehler & Squire, 2009; Twining, 2010; Veletsianos & de Freitas, 2010), a noticeable majority of the articles published in these issues have emanated from the UK and USA. This is by no means indicative of a lack of activity occurring in this area in other countries such as Australia and New Zealand – in fact, there is a great deal of innovation, experimentation and dialogue taking place in the virtual worlds arena across the tertiary education sector in these two countries, especially at the grassroots level (Dalgarno, Lee, Carlson, Gregory & Tynan, 2011; see also Bradshaw, 2006; Gregory et al., 2010; Salomon, 2010; Salt, Atkins & Blackall, 2008; Winter, 2010). This is reflected, for example, in the level of representation of the topic in the Programs and Proceedings of recent ascilite conferences (Atkinson & McBeath, 2008, 2009; Steel, Keppell, Gerbic & Housego, 2010).

This special issue invites contributions from across Australasia as well as the wider Asia-Pacific region. It will comprise articles that address theory, research and practical issues related to the use of virtual worlds in all aspects of tertiary education, encompassing both higher education and vocational education and training (VET). For the purposes of the special issue, a ‘virtual world’ is defined specifically as follows:

A computer-based, simulated environment in which users are able to immerse themselves, and within which they are able to, through their avatars (computer-based representations of themselves or alternative selves), experience, manipulate, interact with and/or create virtual objects and places that are graphically depicted in three dimensions. The objects and places within a virtual world may be modelled according to those in the real world or may be fantasy based. Most current virtual world applications allow for multiple users and include facilities that enable users to communicate and interact with one another within the virtual environment. (Lee, 2010, cited in Dalgarno et al., 2011)

Topics of interest for the special issue include but are not limited to the following:

  • Virtual worlds for learning and teaching in specific subject areas/disciplines
  • Virtual worlds in academic staff development and tertiary teacher training
  • Virtual worlds in open, distance and flexible learning contexts
  • Virtual worlds for research student supervision, training and support
  • Virtual worlds and competency-based training
  • Work-based or work-integrated learning using virtual worlds, including the use of virtual worlds to support student work experience/field placements
  • Mentoring and coaching in virtual worlds
  • Learning design and resource development for virtual worlds
  • Assessment and evaluation of learning in virtual worlds
  • Methodological issues and strategies for researching learning in virtual worlds
  • Ethical issues related to the use of virtual worlds in tertiary education (e.g. access and equity, marginalised/disadvantaged learner groups)
  • Protecting student and staff intellectual property, personal identity, safety and security in virtual worlds
  • Virtual worlds in non-teaching areas of the institution (e.g. libraries, academic support services, student societies/guilds, careers, alumni, marketing and recruitment)
  • Virtual worlds and ICT policy, including institutional access and support issues

Both research articles reporting on empirical studies as well as theoretical/conceptual papers that engage deeply with pertinent questions and issues from a pedagogical, social, cultural, philosophical and/or ethical standpoint will be considered for publication in the special issue. Systematic literature reviews and meta-analyses dealing with virtual worlds in tertiary education in Australasia or the Asia Pacific are also welcome. Authors are strongly encouraged to consider the implications of their work for those outside their disciplines and institutional scenarios, and to attempt to situate the discussion of their findings in the broader context of the tertiary education sector as a whole. They are also urged to critically examine what virtual worlds and their affordances avail us as educators that other ‘simpler’ and more mature technologies do not.

Time schedule

late February – early May 2011 — Call for expressions of interest
23 May 2011 — Extended abstracts due
no later than 18 July 2011 — Invitations issued to selected authors to submit full manuscripts
17 October 2011 — Full manuscripts due
28 November 2011 — Notification of acceptances
23 January 2012 — Revised manuscripts due-
5 March 2012 — Delivery of articles to AJET-
mid to late March 2012 — Publication of the special issue

Submission and review process

An extended abstract (approx. 500 words plus references) outlining the content and aims of the proposed article should be submitted via email as a Microsoft Word .doc attachment to the Guest Editors [] no later than 23 May 2011. Prospective authors are also encouraged to contact the Guest Editors prior to this date to discuss their ideas.

The Guest Editors will review the abstracts and identify 15 to 20 that would be suitable to be developed into full manuscripts (5,000-8,000 words) for the special issue. Full manuscripts should be prepared in accordance with AJET’s [Advice for authors], and will be subject to a double blind peer review process. Each manuscript will be blind reviewed by at least three reviewers who will assess its suitability for inclusion in the special issue and make a recommendation to the Guest Editors based on the following criteria:

  • Importance and originality (i.e. whether the work makes a useful contribution to the literature/knowledge base in the area)
  • Standard of writing (e.g. style and clarity of expression, organisation/structure)
  • Clarity of goals/objectives for the research or development effort and for the manuscript itself
  • Thoroughness of literature review and consistency with relevant extant literature
  • Methodological rigour, including quality of research design (if applicable)
  • Adequacy and accuracy of data analysis (if applicable)
  • Presentation and interpretation of findings, inferences and conclusions, and the degree to which these have been validated/supported
  • Discussion of implications for tertiary education practitioners and/or policymakers
  • Relevance to the special issue

It is envisaged that 8 to 12 articles will ultimately be published in the special issue. Selected authors of the remaining manuscripts may be invited to have their work published in a subsequent (regular) issue of AJET or in an edited book also scheduled for publication in 2012.

More information, including references to cited literature:

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