Exploring the effectiveness of a professional development intervention on faculty consideration of adoption of 3D avatar-based virtual worlds as a learning environment: An exploratory case study




Dass, Susan M.

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The use of 3D avatar-based virtual worlds is gaining momentum. Guidance on how to improve faculty consideration of adopting a technology has not been examined from a faculty perspective and not for virtual worlds. An exploratory case study, relying on mixed methods and multiple cases, was used to explore nursing faculty (n = 8) consideration of adopting virtual worlds as a learning environment before and after the study's professional development intervention (SPDI). The SPDI consisted of three 90-minute face-to-face class sessions designed to build knowledge, skills, and abilities through knowledge sharing and hands-on activities. More specifically, the SPDI content was derived from definitions of the variables and constructs under study, the professional development literature, and the technology adoption literature. The SPDI design emerged from the professional development literature on best practices as well as followed instructional design principles. Two cycles of a design-based research approach allowed updates to the SPDI across cycles based on preliminary findings. The SPDI did improve faculty consideration of virtual worlds for all participants but only three participants would likely pursue virtual worlds as a learning environment. Multiple adoption model constructs such as perceived ease of use were explored but no one construct was found to be an indicator of behavioral intention. However, those participants that self-identified concrete, perceivably doable learning activities for a virtual world that offers a relative advantage over current practice may be key to discerning those who may adopt a virtual world. Furthermore, facilitating conditions were a pre-requisite to adoption. Personal innovativeness was considered a demographic likely to influence adoption and needs further research. In terms of the SPDI design, participants need to experience in-world co-presence before explaining virtual world affordances because this is a unique and likely foreign concept to faculty non-adopters.



Educational technology, Higher education, Faculty Perceptions, Professional Development, Research, Second Life, Technology Adoption, Virtual Worlds