Virtual worlds for training and education

This course will bring you up to speed on the current ability of virtual worlds to support teaching and learning. You will gain hands-on experience of three representative virtual worlds, and see how these computer-generated 3D environments have been used by educators and students, from simple easily-created spaces to advanced simulated laboratories with automated tuition.

You will have the opportunity to consider where within your own teaching virtual worlds could be implemented and the advantages and disadvantages of so doing. There will be a little time given to building in virtual worlds so that you are able to assess the cost of building virtual world spaces.

Duration: A full day


  1. Ability to interact with virtual worlds effectively – following paths, interacting with objects, changing the avatar’s clothes and appearance
  2. Ability to choose a suitable virtual world for education
  3. Understanding of the features, advantages and disadvantages of using virtual worlds for education
  4. Ability to select and modify a lesson for teaching in a virtual world
  5. Understanding the basics of designing a virtual world space
  6. General view on the cost of creating virtual world spaces


  • Introduction to virtual worlds
  • University of Leicester’s Second Life training area
  • Virtual world pedagogies
  • Representative virtual world spaces


  • Consideration of own teaching and virtual worlds
  • Building in virtual worlds
  • Building in Second Life


Target Audience

Course designers, secondary teachers, university lecturers



Facilitator: Paul Rudman

Dr. Paul Rudman is a research associate in educational technology with the Institute of Learning Innovation (ILI), at the University of Leicester, UK. In 2009 he was the Research Associate for SWIFT (, a three-year project to investigate the use of artificial environments, such as Second Life, to support laboratory-based learning of genetics at undergraduate level. This involved designing and instigating complex virtual learning spaces and trialling their use with undergraduates. SWIFT significantly advanced the use of automated learner guidance in virtual worlds.

A major strand of Paul's research is the automated, selective and timely use of minimal information to guide and assist the learner. This direction was chosen during a master’s degree in Human-Centered Computer Systems at the University of Sussex (1997-8) where he gained a distinction by designing and evaluating a mobile tool to support security professionals. The research direction was strengthened during his PhD research at the University of Birmingham (1999-2002), where he created an innovative form of dynamic support for learning during spoken conversations. Paul’s has also researched the use of computers for learning at the University of Glasgow and Oxford Brookes University.

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The Institute of Learning Innovation (formerly the Beyond Distance Research Alliance) has now closed.

This website preserves an archive of the projects we worked on.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to the BDRA/ILI over the years.