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Teachers' perceptions of virtual worlds as a medium for social inclusion for adults with intellectual disability
journal contributionposted on 2015-01-01, 00:00 authored by Susan BalandinSusan Balandin, J Molka-Danielsen
PURPOSE: The aim of this research was to explore educators' perceptions of a virtual world Second Life TM as an environment for social interaction and social inclusion for the Norwegian adult students with intellectual disability that they supported. METHOD: Five educators who supported a total of 10 adult students with intellectual disability in computer classes in community Adult Education Centres participated in individual in-depth interviews. The interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed using a content analysis. RESULTS: Participants were positive about Second Life although they did not perceive that it offered a successful context for social interaction or inclusion. They identified a number of benefits to using a virtual world and for students participating in virtual world research. Barriers identified included language, literacy, and technology issues along with the complexity of participating independently in a virtual world. CONCLUSIONS: Some people with intellectual disability can use virtual worlds but the skills required need additional research. Virtual worlds may provide a stimulating, safe, and exciting context for a range of activities but the level of support required by many people is high and consequently expensive.