Supporting distributed team working in 3D virtual worlds: A case study in Second Life

Minocha, Shailey and Morse, David (2010). Supporting distributed team working in 3D virtual worlds: A case study in Second Life. Interactive Technology and Smart Education, 7(4) pp. 200–219.



This paper reports on a study into how a three-dimensional (3D) virtual world (Second Life) can facilitate socialisation and team working amongst students working on a team project at a distance. This models the situation in many commercial sectors where work is increasingly being conducted across time zones and between multiple teams. Collaboration in these geographically distributed teams is virtual rather than through face-to-face interactions. We investigate how a virtual world such as Second Life compares to other collaboration tools such as instant messaging or Skype; and the challenges that students experience in becoming acquainted with and working in Second Life.

The paper discusses the role of 3D virtual worlds in supporting student team projects involving students who are geographically dispersed. The sense of visual presence and of place in a 3D world can make socialising in a virtual world, a more 'human' experience than in 2D environments such as websites, e-mail, wikis and blogs, and even phone or video-conferencing. The research reported in this paper could enhance uptake of 3D virtual worlds by organisations facing the challenges of facilitating socialisation and knowledge sharing in a distributed workforce.

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