Between Purpose and Method: A Review of Educational Research on 3D Virtual Worlds


  • Sahoon H. Kim Indiana University
  • Jiyeon Lee Lee Myongji University
  • Michael K. Thomas



Virtual Worlds, Virtual Reality, Games, Education, MUVE, MMOG


This study aims to enhance our holistic understanding of 3D virtual worlds by providing a detailed analysis of the research methods and research trends related to the research of 3D virtual worlds for educational environments. Data was collected by searching for the ubiquitous term, "virtual world," from databases. Snowball sampling was also employed. The researchers critically analyzed the literature as data focusing on how virtual worlds were applied in individual studies, what research methods were used, and what disciplines were examined in the studies. The results indicate that virtual worlds are mainly used for the simulation of space, and they are used in different ways depending on discipline and descriptive research methods were most used in research studies on the educational applications of virtual worlds, experimental approaches are increasingly being used by researchers. Based on these results, this study suggests an appropriate research direction for the application of virtual worlds in educational contexts in the future.

Author Biographies

  • Sahoon H. Kim, Indiana University
  • Jiyeon Lee Lee, Myongji University
    Jiyeon Lee is a professor in the Bangmok College of Basic Studies at Myongji University, Republic of Korea.
  • Michael K. Thomas

    Michael K. Thomas is an assistant professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA.






Peer Reviewed Research Papers