Co-presence in the Real and the Virtual Space: Interactions Through Orientation

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PubDate: August 2017

Teams: University of Bedfordshire

Writers: Athanasios ChristopoulosMarc ConradMitul Shukla

PDF: Co-presence in the Real and the Virtual Space: Interactions Through Orientation

Abstract

The global aim of this research is to identify, map, and form a taxonomy of the ways, the elements, and the factors that affect learner engagement with virtual worlds when Hybrid Virtual Learning models are used. Thereafter, the more specific objective of the research is to provide clear guidance to educators who are already utilising or are planning to embed this learning model in their educational agenda. For the examination of this topic, a quanti-qualitative research approach is used, as this allows to investigate the subject both from the students’ and the instructional designer’s point of view. The sample of this study consists of both undergraduate and postgraduate university students. Participants are requested to fill in two different questionnaires, one before using the virtual world and one after completing their assignment. That way it is possible not only to fully mirror their thoughts, preconceptions, and opinions towards the use of virtual worlds in Higher Education, but also the impact that the instructional designer’s choices have on enhancing the opportunities for interactions. In addition, a focus group is being observed – both in the physical classroom and in the virtual world – during the course of the assignment. The focus of this experiment was on the impact that the orientation/induction process has on learner engagement. The findings suggest that students’ interactions with the content of the virtual world, and the in-class student-to-student interactions, have stronger impact on student engagement. This is because students’ simultaneous co-existence in both environments eliminated the drawbacks of each educational approach, and broadened the network of interactions.

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