Journal of the Association for Information Systems


While 3D virtual worlds are more frequently being used as interactive environments for collaboration, there is still no structured approach developed specifically for the combined design of 3D virtual environments and the collaborative activities in them. We argue that formalizing both the structural elements of virtual worlds and aspects of collaborative work or collaborative learning helps to develop fruitful collaborative work and learning experiences. As such, we present the avatar-based collaboration framework (ABC framework). Based on semiotics theory, the framework puts the collaborating groups into the center of the design and emphasizes the use of distinct features of 3D virtual worlds for use in collaborative learning environments and activities. In developing the framework, we have drawn from best practices in instructional design and game design, research in HCI, and findings and observations from our own empirical research that investigates collaboration patterns in virtual worlds. Along with the framework, we present a case study of its first application for a global collaborative learning project. This paper particularly addresses virtual world designers, educators, meeting facilitators, and other practitioners by thoroughly describing the process of creating rich collaboration and collaborative learning experiences for virtual worlds with the ABC framework.