Investigating the use of virtual worlds to teach basics of programming to children: A multiple case study


Thesis Type: Doctorate

Institution Of The Thesis: Orta Doğu Teknik Üniversitesi, Faculty of Education, Department of Computer Education and Instructional Technology, Turkey

Approval Date: 2018

Student: ALİ BATTAL

Supervisor: SANİYE TUĞBA TOKEL

Abstract:

The main purpose of this study is to investigate the use of VWs in teaching basics of programming for children in different educational programs. More specifically, the current study aims to examine the perception of participants about the ease of use and perceived usefulness of VWs in programming education, the affordances and challenges of using virtual worlds, issues and strategies for the group study, design issues of different educational programs in VWs, factors that affect satisfaction, and avatar issues. In this context, this study was implemented in three different educational programs constituting the single cases of the study as; curricular, extra-curricular, and after-school programs. The multiple case study was employed among the qualitative designs. In this context, data were collected mainly through interviews, observations and questionnaires from students and teachers in each case separately. Qualitative analysis and descriptive statistics were applied to data obtained for single case analysis of each case. Then cross-case analysis was employed in order to reveal the similarities and differences across the cases at the end of the study. The results of the current study showed that students perceived VW as useful and used them for learning programming without major difficulties. Having fun, personal contributions, gaining experience on 3D, facilitating group study and motivation were the affordances of using VWs, whilst participants encountered challenges related to the 3D environment, equipment and infrastructure and tasks. Additionally, the results vi indicated the important issues and strategies for avatars, group study and the design of educational programs in the virtual learning environment. Students’ satisfaction in each case was defined and factors affecting their satisfaction were addressed. Finally, similarities and differences across the cases were discussed based on the sub-research questions in the light of the literature. The findings of this current study might help to understand the use of VWs in programming education for children in three different educational programs, and also provide a basis for educators and other researchers in using VWs for the teaching programming.