Providing real life problems to students is not a new way in educational practice. In this study, it was aimed to explore how novice instructional technologists solve a real life problem about distance education on second life environment. 22 novice instructional technologists enrolled to Distance Education course were participated to the study. They were asked to imagine that they have a distance education specialist position in a distance education team. A real life problem presented on Second Life environment to the participants and they were asked to solve this problem working with their group members. The real life problem was: “The dropout rate in this distance education program that you worked, is too high and as the distance education specialists, you were responsible to find a solution to this problem. As a specialist you are required to present an “instructional design” model for your solutions.”. The participants visited the special island designed as a distance education center on Second Life to get together with their group members and discuss their solutions. This special island is used to increase the participants motivation feelings as a distance education specialist and increase their communication opportunities. The data collection process took 12 weeks. During the data collection the participants both experienced the F2F classroom activities and a 3D virtual environment (SL). This process include not only include theoretical information but also practical solution integration process related with distance education. The instructor gave theoretical information and provide weekly questions. In practical part, the participants worked in groups while developing a strategy for the given problem. They worked together to find an instructional design for the real-life problem. Data collected through interviews, open-ended questions, system logs, and video recordings. Moreover, ID models proposed by the novice instructional technologists to solve problems presented were evaluated. The results showed that the participants were eager to solve the real life problem and also they found Second Life environment experience interesting. In addition, they acknowledged that carrying out the problem solving process into a virtual world promoted their view positively to the problem related with the distance education. Although some of the participants were suspicious about the virtual world’s productivity due to the infrastructural problems, they were aware of the potential of these kind of environments.
Acknowledgement: This study was supported by the Research Fund of Mersin University in Turkey with Project Number: 2016-2-AP3-1956.