Socialisation and collaborative learning of distance learners in 3D virtual worlds

Minocha, Shailey and Tingle, Rita (2008). Socialisation and collaborative learning of distance learners in 3D virtual worlds. In: Proceedings of Researching Learning in Virtual Environments International Conference (RELIVE08), 20-21 Nov 2008, The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK.



Socialisation or 'knowing one another' is a key element of online learning and knowledge construction. Socialisation needs to be integrated and sustained in the collaboration process through the design of activities which ensure to reduce social distance amongst online learners. Virtual ice breakers early on in collaboration may not be sufficient to develop and maintain shared understanding, mutual trust and social presence. Inadequate early socialisation is a key obstacle in conducting collaborative activities at a distance, as investigated in our research with blogs, wikis and forums, and elsewhere. Socialisation in distributed environments can be enhanced through synchronous technologies such as instant messaging, phone, conference call, video-conferencing, web-conferencing, and so on. In this paper, we will present a review of our recent research which uncovered obstacles in student-collaboration due to inadequate socialisation with tools such as blogs and wikis. We will report the theoretical underpinnings for the pedagogical rationale for adopting 3-D virtual worlds such as Second Life for socialisation and knowledge creation in distance-education. Based on literature review and empirical investigations, we will discuss sample Second Life activities which aid socialisation.

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