Dr. Mark Childs

Visiting Fellow

Dr. Mark ChildsDr Mark Childs is a Visiting Fellow at the Institute of Learning Innovation. His other posts are Senior Research Fellow at Coventry University and Senior Researcher at Loughborough University. His research interests are in particular in the use of synchronous online platforms such as videoconferencing and virtual worlds for education, virtual teamworking, collaboration and development of digital identity. He also has an interest in the use of augmented reality and games-based learning. However, his experience in learning innovation stretches beyond this, and he has worked on digital repository projects, podcasting projects, analysed students’ use of learning commons spaces and many more; a total 44 learning innovation projects over the past 15 years.

His current research is looking at the use of web 2.0 and videoconferencing to link children across Europe so that they can share their culture and literature with each other. This will look at how they communicate, their experience of collaboration and how effective getting children to teach others about culture and language is at improving their own learning. His other research is in how to facilitate online collaboration for design in civil and construction engineering. This involves identifying the key factors of the initial “messy talk” phase in design, which is particularly difficult to conduct online.

In addition, Mark continues to write and research the use of virtual worlds in performance and theatre. This is a field he began as the manager of the Theatron project with King’s College London, and continued as lead researcher on the Theatrebase project with Daden Ltd and the Birmingham Royal Ballet, both of which used Second Life as a platform for design, education and performance in theatres. This has continued with collaborations with actors and performers, such as the Extract/Insert installation in 2012.

A forthcoming book Making Sense of Space, consists of two inter-linked monographs, one written by him and one by his co-author, Iryna Kuksa. In Mark’s section he discusses the role that engagement of belief plays in the perception and experience of places, particularly virtual worlds, but also game spaces, ritual places and theatre. This continues to be an area he is exploring.

Mark’s academic background is mixed, his first degree being in astrophysics and his masters’ degrees consisting of one in media studies and one in practitioner research. His PhD from the University of Warwick was in Learners’ Experience of Presence in Virtual Worlds, looking at links between the development of identity and embodiment in virtual worlds and the effectiveness of learning within them. Before working in higher education, Mark worked as a journalist and publisher, and then taught in further education. He is still not sure what he wants to be when he grows up.

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