Two key challenges faced by Australians in the present century are technology and foreign languages. Technology in general, and communications technology particularly , is becoming increasingly pervasive in all aspects of our lives. There is no shortage of new and exciting hardware, software, and platforms at our disposal for use in everyday life, in business and in indeed in education. The challenge we face is how to best use digital technology to value add to the student learning experience and learning outcomes with an eye to increasing our competitiveness in the global market. Likewise, the need for skills in languages other than English is becoming more pressing as neighbouring economies come to play an increasingly important part in Australia’s future prosperity. Mobilising digital technology to enhance language learning is at the heart of Virtually Enhanced Languages.
Funded by the Australian Federal Government Office for Learning and Teaching, Virtually Enhanced Languages (VEL) builds on eight years of experience using online 3D multiuser virtual environments (MUVEs) to enhance tertiary level Chinese language and culture learning. The aim of VEL is to promote the use of 3D MUVEs in tertiary Chinese language education, make available shareable technical and pedagogical resources, and to foster a community of practice to support ongoing sustainable development.