Learner perceptions and recall of small group discussions within 2D and 3D collaborative environments

Steve Downey, Jill Mohler, Joan Morris, Rene Sanchez


Online 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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DOI: https://doi.org/10.14742/ajet.778