Prof. Guy Merchant - Imagining worlds: from virtual learning to virtual play

With the advent of Pokémon Go and Oculus Rift new configurations of the virtual and the real have emerged. These digital and post-digital developments shift what technology has to offer for leisure and for learning, creating new possibilities and inviting new ways of thinking. In this presentation I look back over ten years of work on and in virtual worlds, charting some of the developments in literacy and learning in these environments and the key theoretical and methodological influences this has involved.  In particular I will focus on the opportunities and challenges of virtual learning in education and the emergence of new ideas about virtual play. On the basis of this, I speculate about the changing landscape of virtual technologies and future lines of development.

Guy Merchant is Professor of Literacy in Education at Sheffield Hallam University. He specializes in research into digital literacy and is particularly interested in the inter-relations between children and young people, new technology and literacy. He was co-director of the Economic and Social Research Council seminar series on virtual literacies and lead editor of its main output 'Virtual Literacies: Interactive Spaces for Children and Young People’ (2013).