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Knowledge Building in Virtual Online Worlds

Knowledge Construction Lab


August 2007 - open-end


Budget resources of KMRC



KMRC Island The aim of this project is to test and examine computer-supported collaborative and individual learning using three-dimensional environments.

Second Life is a three-dimensional online world in which users can interact with each other and communicate using avatars. The shape and form of this virtual reality may be defined by its users. As one component of the project, the Knowledge Media Research Center (KMRC) has its own island in Second Life with several virtual buildings. What may also be found here is information on the lines of research pursued by the KMRC and single research projects. In addition, the island contains meeting rooms and a lecture hall with a virtual whiteboard.

Our research on Second Life deals with processes of individual learning and collaborative knowledge building, based on the co-evolution model (Cress & Kimmerle, 2008), which regards learning with Web 2.0 applications as an interplay between individual knowledge and information provided by a community through the web. KMRC as a research institution has established a virtual research laboratory on the island and is interested in attracting users of Second Life as potential participants of scientific studies and experiments.

In this context, learning of conceptual and factual knowledge is operationalized by simple categorization tasks. What may be manipulated here, as the main factor, is the extent of the incongruity between categorizations of objects by individuals and by a community. A cognitive conflict that may be induced in this way is regarded as a key to successful learning.

Another part of the project dealt with by KMRC consists of the evaluation of a virtual training scenario for police forces, aimed at training them to react adequately in their daily operations. This pilot application is part of the innovation project POLIZEI-ONLINE, developed jointly by the Ministry of the Interior of the state of Baden-Württemberg and TriCat, a company dealing with technology enhanced training solutions, resident at Ulm. Our focus here is on studying the opportunities which virtual online worlds provide for acquiring and training specific practical knowledge.

The KMRC island in Second Life:


  • Moskaliuk, J., Kimmerle, J., Cress, U., & Hesse, F. W. (2011). Knowledge building in user-generated online Virtual Realities. Journal of Emerging Technologies in Web Intelligence, 3, 38-46.
  • Moskaliuk, J., Kimmerle, J., & Cress, U. (2009). Virtual Reality 2.0 and Its Application in Knowledge Building. In S. Murugesan (Ed.), Handbook of Research on Web 2.0, 3.0 and X.0: Technologies, Business, and Social Applications (pp.573-595). Hershey, PA: IGI Global.
  • Cress, U., Kimmerle, J. (2008). A systemic and cognitive view on collaborative knowledge building with wikis. International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, 3 (2), 105-122.