Current research shows that three-dimensional (3D) virtual worlds can be effectively used in distance learning. Their immersive environment as well as the extensive repertoire of communication and collaboration means such as voice over IP, 3D representations, and instant text messaging are central characteristics of virtual worlds. These features, characteristics, and their playful character make virtual worlds interesting for imparting and sharing knowledge in distance learning settings.

Research results reveal that, in general, teaching in distance learning requires a flexible usage of various didactical concepts and moderation strategies which makes this mode of teaching more complex and challenging for teachers than imparting knowledge in face-to-face settings or via traditional e-learning platforms.

This paper aims at analyzing and understanding teachers’ roles and functions in distance learning, which base on the virtual world Second Life, by conduction comparative case study analyses with existing didactical concepts.

As teachers’ and students’ representation as avatars result in a high degree of social presence in virtual worlds experiential learning can be facilitated. However, for imparting experiential knowledge in virtual worlds teachers are confronted by various teaching situations. Teachers’ main task is motivating and moderating discussions among students rather than presenting content. As our study shows that this kind of “e-moderation” is complex and demanding. Didactical and technical skills are required to apply different teaching methods.