Evaluation of Activity Designs in the Virtual Platform of Second Life for the Development of International Students’ Intercultural Communicative Competence
Research into the rapidly growing number of students involved in study abroad has repeatedly shown the importance of intercultural communicative competence (ICC) to enable these students to manage encounters in different cultures. Virtual world platforms such as Second Life that expose individuals to different virtual cultures and interaction rules have been used in blended learning contexts by many intercultural scholars to provide experiential learning opportunities to develop students’ ICC. There is evidence of their effectiveness in facilitating ICC development by immersing students in experiential activities such as teleporting to different cultural places, and interacting with unknown others. However, there are yet to be studies based on the construction of complex designs for ICC development in self-study contexts. This small study evaluates ICC tools and resources designed for self-study in a totally immersive ICC Education Campus and built using the Second Life platform, and reflects on the outcomes, demands and challenges. While there were limitations in the design because of technological challenges, feedback from the nine participants shows the effectiveness of the ICC tools and resources developed in this small study in preparing students for international exchanges or study abroad, as well as providing in-country support.