Learner perceptions and recall of small group discussions within 2D and 3D collaborative environments
AbstractOnline learning critically relies upon good communication between engaged parties inorder to convey ideas, meanings, and values. Emerging technologies in collaborative virtual environments are providing new affordances in establishing greater online presence and, in turn, greater abilities to communicate and learn. This study examines how learners perceive, follow, and recall information presented in discussions in both a 2D and a 3D collaborative environment, Elluminate (now known as Blackboard Collaborate) and Second Life respectively. This exploratory study shows that learners observing discussions in Second Life have a tendency to better organise ideas, better identify who said what, and better recall what information was said throughout the discussion, than with similar discussions in Elluminate. On average, participants in this small scale study were able to follow and recall conversations in Second Life 10-13% better than the discussions in Elluminate. While findings produced positive trends towards Second Life, additional testing is required as the scale (n=42) was small and the frequencies of statistical results in excess of .05 were limited. Still, collectively they do point towards valuable insights for online educators in how they choose to deliver content, conduct synchronous class discussions, and communicate with their students.
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