Understanding immersion in 2D platform-based online collaborative learning environments
Keywords:cognitive engagement, empathy, immersion, online collaboration, transportation, qualitative
Previous studies have revealed that when video gamers, or users of three-dimensional (3D) virtual worlds, display intense concentration coupled with an emotional engagement in their undertaking, they are affected by multisensory stimuli. This can lead to developing a feeling of detachment from the physical world, which, in turn, can lead to high levels of participation and engagement. Notwithstanding these results, it remains unclear as to whether students can experience the same kind of immersion in two-dimensional (2D) platform-based online collaborative learning spaces as has been achieved in video games and 3D worlds and, if they actually can, which features would lead to similar levels of increased engagement. This study is one of the first attempts to investigate the immersion experiences of students engaged in two 2D online collaborative learning platforms, one text-based and the other video-based. Data from eight students revealed that key features of immersion observed in video games and 3D worlds also appeared during the online collaborative activities but that the way such immersion was perceived by the students was greatly affected by the characteristics of the individual platform. When emotional engagement was considered, empathy was found to play an important role in the participants’ immersion experiences.
Implications for practice or policy:
- Text-based platforms could be effective in motivating students to focus more on the postings, while video-based platforms may be more effective in generating empathy with others through observation of body language.
- When selecting a communication platform for online collaboration, sensory stimuli of the platform should be carefully examined.
- Empathy could be developed prior to an online collaborative activity so that students reflect on their thoughts and consider others’ feelings for a more immersive learning experience.
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