State of XR and Immersive Learning


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2019-20 Expert Panel Activities

Identity in Virtual worlds

It seems likely that it will be necessary to develop a fuller understanding of how XR and immersive technologies impact on identity.

Identity is relevant to many of the identified XR and immersive technologies topics but does seem to be a discrete topic on its own that is worth exploring. Identity is similar to empathy but that is more about how we understand and share the feelings of another, whereas identity is more about how we perceive and present ourselves.
Identity is important in learning in many ways – for example in children’s perceptions of themselves as a good or a poor reader or in thinking about their future career. Encouraging children to take STEM subjects requires that they “see” themselves as a scientist or mathematician.
Starr, C. R., Anderson, B. R., & Green, K. A. (2019). ” I’m a Computer Scientist!”: Virtual Reality Experience Influences Stereotype Threat and STEM Motivation Among Undergraduate Women. Journal of Science Education and Technology.

Identity is an important aspect of how we perceive ourselves and how we project ourselves to the world. Personal identity refers to the characteristics about ourselves that make us who we are. Psychologists such as Erikson (1963) proposed that our understanding of self develops initially through the quality of our interactions with our parents, but subsequently through an increasingly wide “radius of significant individuals”. In Erikson’s view discovering “Who am I?” is especially important for teenagers.
Social identity theory proposes that social identity is a person’s sense of who they are based on the groups that they belong to and the positive feelings they have about membership in these groups.
Social identity is developed and consolidated via the interactions that we have with other people. In his book The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, Goffman (1959) proposed that the interactions which shape our identity take place face-to-face. However technology has changed how we present ourselves to the world and how we perceive ourselves. For example Facebook allows users to present self-selected aspects of their identity, while games allow player to take on several different identities.

Like other technologies, Virtual Reality has the potential to influence users’ perceptions of and understanding of themselves and others via the interactions they have in the virtual environment. Interactions that users have in virtual worlds will shape their social identity. It will be important to consider how the very realistic experiences that individuals will have in virtual environments will impact on their identity, as it seems likely that the impact could be positive or negative. XR and immersive technologies have the potential to allow users to experience another’s reality.
Identity construction is consistent with social interactionist theories such as Vygotsky’s that view interactions with others, and especially with more able individuals, as an important mechanism for learning.
There already is a literature about identity in virtual worlds
Stéphanie Buisine & Jérôme Guegan (2019): Proteus vs. social identity effects on virtual brainstorming, Behaviour & Information Technology.

Nagy, P., & Koles, B. (2014). The digital transformation of human identity: Towards a conceptual model of virtual identity in virtual worlds. Convergence, 20(3), 276-292.

Marsh, J. (2010). Young children’s play in online virtual worlds. Journal of early childhood research, 8(1), 23-39.

Define the need/opportunity if it has not been defined yet OR expand on the current definition if you believe that is necessary. Learner-, context-, and/or situation-specific conditions may be relevant here.

Illuminate any concrete examples of the need/opportunity in action.

Align effective pedagogies with XR and immersive learning technology usage that, in tandem, can fulfill the need/opportunity.

Imagine the possibilities for the future of learning, teaching, training, and/or scholarship if XR and immersive learning technologies are applied effectively in service of fulfilling the need/opportunity.

Scan any relevant literature you are aware of that relates to the need/opportunity; what are the most pressing overall themes you observe from the literature? (Share any direct URLs.)

Ask any questions that are critical for addressing in order to fulfill the need/opportunity.