Date of Award

Spring 5-2014

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education

Committee Chair

Dr. Taralynn Hartsell

Committee Chair Department

Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education

Committee Member 2

Dr. Eric Platt

Committee Member 2 Department

Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education

Committee Member 3

Dr. Kyna Shelley

Committee Member 3 Department

Educational Studies and Research

Committee Member 4

Dr. Shuyan Wang

Committee Member 4 Department

Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education

Abstract

Second Life, a 3D online immersive virtual environment, emerged in 2003 and was predicted to become the predominant online course delivery platform by 2013. Educational institutions initially rushed to create a presence in the Second Life; however, after 2009 those same institutions were disappointed by their experiences and deserted the virtual world. This study sought to uncover the reasons for the rapid decline of such a highly lauded educational platform. Using a mixed methods research design, utilizing a qualitative phenomenology with in-depth personal interviews of higher education administrators followed by a detailed quantitative survey instrument, the researcher was able to explain the reasons the platform did not become a mainstream course delivery method. Students reported dissatisfaction with graphical quality and hardware issues, perceived lack of relevance, and usability issues. Instructors reported dissatisfaction with hardware issues, time issues, student acceptance, the lack of a clear reward system, especially with tenure and promotion and technical support issues. Instructional designers reported dissatisfaction with hardware issues, stakeholder engagement and interest, pedagogical value, time issues, and technical support issues. The findings provided insights for higher education administrators when considering the use of emerging technology for teaching and learning. For innovative educational solutions to be effective administrators should provide sufficient technological resources, improve stakeholder engagement and interest by providing better training and more personal attention to users, allow innovative efforts by faculty to be rewarded through the tenure and promotion process, improve their own attitude and buy-in surrounding the use of emerging technology for educational and learning activity delivery, and become more patient with commercially available software to allow for improvements to occur organically.