AM Posters 2009 START Conference Manager    

Enhancing Studentsí Sense of Community in Online Environments: Comparing Wimba and Second Life Virtual Classrooms

Yunfei Du

(Submission #104)


Abstract

An essential ingredient to the success of distance learning programs is the ability to build the sense of community. In recent years educational institutes are using Wimba live classrooms to provide synchronous communications with audio and visual-based interactions between students and instructors. Some educators began using 3D multiple user virtual environments such as Second Life in distance education. While many online classes have been delivered successfully through text-based discussion boards in WebCT/Blackboard, little is known how audio/visual-based Wimba Live classroom and 3D Second Life (SL) virtual classrooms can enhance student collaboration and sense of community.

Nine graduate students from a southwest state university participated in this experimental study in Spring 2009. Students were given 15-minute lecture and live demo on a SL classroom and then they filled out a pre-test questionnaire on their acceptance of such learning environment. The survey demonstrated high reliability in previous studies by the author. Students meet in a regular basis at the computer lab. Students kept weekly diary on their use of SL and Wimba. After three classes meetings students completed a post-test survey on their acceptance of the learning environment and reported their collaboration and sense of community. Wimba and 3D SL learning environments will likely provide new tools for LIS educators to design interactive course modules and better facilitate studentsí information needs.


  
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