Multi-user virtual environments as a pathway to distributed social networks in the classroom
Computers & Education Volume 130, Number 1, ISSN 0360-1315 Publisher: Elsevier Ltd
Some emergent forms of online educational tools support the formation of a non-hierarchically distributed communication. Theories posit that this form of communication can harvest a more optimal learning environment compared to traditional classroom environments, but evidence supporting the theoretical assumption is scarce. The current study examined whether a Multi-User Virtual Environment (MUVE) tool called Second Life (SL) in conjunction with blogging and traditional lecturing (MUVE condition) can facilitate the formation of a distributed learning environment as compared to only blogging and traditional lecturing (active-control condition). Two classes of students (N = 56, 53.6% female) enrolled in an undergraduate-level, semester-long psychology course participated in the study. The students in both experimental and control conditions had a lecture and blogging component, and in the experimental condition the students also used SL during class. Student interactions recorded on the blogging platform in both conditions were analyzed by social network analysis. This was supplemented by student interviews early and later in the semester. The results revealed that the network in the MUVE condition was more connected and more distributed than in the active-control condition. The findings suggest that MUVE enables students to play a more active role in the classroom learning community.
Kuznetcova, I., Glassman, M. & Lin, T.J. (2019). Multi-user virtual environments as a pathway to distributed social networks in the classroom. Computers & Education, 130(1), 26-39. Elsevier Ltd.