Using virtual reality to enhance informal learning in small and medium enterprises
Author(s)Jewitt, Katharine Elizabeth
KeywordsL Education (General)
LB Theory and practice of education
LB2300 Higher Education
LC Special aspects of education
LC5201 Education extension. Adult education. Continuing education
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AbstractMy original contribution to knowledge is the use of computer generated, three-dimensional (3D) virtual worlds using Second Life® as a three-way sustained engagement and a mechanism for a genuinely productive dialogue between Further Education (FE) colleges, employers, employees and apprentices. This thesis shows how the use of virtual worlds creates meaningful employer engagement where Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are involved in planning and contributing to learning (Healey et al, 2014). A radical rethink is taking place about the way we should learn. That is that most learning is informal, at work, under the guidance of non-educationalists and that this situation is universal in the government's priority area of apprenticeship (HM Treasury, 2015) and among most private providers. I will discuss how virtual environments allow SMEs to work in ways they cannot in real life and juxtapose this against the real world, in order to reveal the previously misunderstood connections between the two. The question of Further Education (FE) reform has been widely debated (Bailey et al, 2015, Kelly, 2015) with former Skills Minister, Nick Boles, questioning whether the general FE college model has a future (Evans, 2015) and The Centre for Vocational Education Research (2015) reporting “FE needs to be rethought and rebuilt”. The gap in research for UK vocational education is significant, in comparison to school or university education (Coffield 2008, Grollmann, 2008) and detrimental to the UK government’s drive to recruiting 3 million apprentices by 2020 (Gov.UK, 2015a). This thesis addresses the use of virtual worlds to enhance work transitions both educationally and work related with special attention to apprentices. Specifically, I will be looking at research that pays attention to the socio-cultural context of situated learning (Lave and Wenger, 1991, Vygotsky, 1978), in order to show communities of practice in virtual worlds, transferring motivation and knowledge management. I argue working in virtual worlds bridges the gap between education and industry to develop a modern workforce for the continuation of learning across formal and informal settings (Vavoula et al, 2007) and how its use is endless and hugely enriching by allowing learning to be much more opportunistic. There are so many opportunities in the use of virtual worlds, related particularly to a three-way partnership in learning between apprentices and employees, employers and FE colleges: co-ordination of off- and on-the-job learning; real-time oversight for employers of their employees’ progress; use of virtual events at work to enrich learning, demonstrations of processes and development of learning communities.
Jewitt, Katharine Elizabeth (2018) Using virtual reality to enhance informal learning in small and medium enterprises. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.