Implementation of Virtual Worlds to Promote Distance Practice Teachers' Participation in the English Learning Process
Keywords:distance education; participation; practice teachers; virtual worlds
Distance education has adopted innovative technology-assisted approaches to improve teacher engagement, with virtual worlds emerging as a potentially promising tool for enhancing the participation of distance practice teachers in the learning process. In this context, the purpose of this study is to investigate the incidence of using virtual worlds as a resource to increase distance practice teachers’ participation in the learning process. An action research design that incorporated a combination of both quantitative and qualitative research was used to carry out the study. The techniques applied to collect the information were a survey, an interview, and an observation checklist. The sample consisted of 116 participants (44 male and 72 female) whose ages ranged from 25 to 35 years. They were enrolled in the English major of a distance program at a private university in a southern city in Ecuador. They participated actively in 16 synchronic activities during the intervention period (one per week). The results showed that the use of virtual worlds allowed pre-service teachers to increase the frequency of their participation during synchronic classes. Besides, practice English teachers had positive perceptions regarding the use of virtual worlds as a resource for learning because the sense of presence provided by the platform motivated them to participate in the activities. From the findings of the study, it is recommended that further research consider the use of virtual worlds for fostering participation in on-site learning environments to further triangulate the results of the study and for comparative analysis.
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