How Second Life can be Utilized as a Synchronous Tool in E-Learning Courses to Increase Learner Engagement
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Literature Review: The researchers have provided an in depth look into the established connections identified between learner engagement and performance (Kuh, 2003; Robinson & Hullinger, 2008; Stott, 2016; Calvo & Reio, 2018; Stewart, Stott, & Nuttall, 2011), how virtual worlds have been used as tools in the field of education (Reinsmith-Jones, Kibbe, Crayton, Campbell, 2015; Girvan, 2018; Ramirez, Rico, Riofrio-Luzcando, Berrocal-Loco, & Antonio, 2018; Reinsmith-Jones, Kibbe, Crayton, and Campbell 2015), and how relevant adult learning theories (Harasim, 2012; Siemens, 2004; Hein, 1991) apply to transactional distance learning under Moore’s (1997) theoretical framework. Thesis Statement: Introducing SL as a synchronous component to an e-learning course will increase learner engagement in that course. Theoretical Framework: Michael G. Moore’s (1989) theory of transactional distance explains how the distance between the structure and dialogue of the online class, rather than the geographical distance, has an impact student learning. Transactional distance increases when the class is more structured and there is less interaction, such as discussions, between the instructor and the student (Moore, 1989). Project Description: The researchers performed research in conjunction with Texas A&M’s online undergraduate course, EHRD 315 Applied HRD in the Workplace (EHRD 315), during the fall 2018 and spring 2019 semesters. Fall 2018 was used to determine a baseline engagement level for the course without the use of the virtual world Second Life (SL), an online immersive virtual environment (OLIVE). The professor for EHRD 315 took three of the activities required in the fall 2018 course, that had been completed by learners using a non-immersive technology such as Skype, Google Hangouts, or Google Documents, and transformed them into interactive simulations that learners were asked to complete using SL. The spring 2019 learners were asked to create an SL account, complete an introductory SL training module, and then complete the same three activities outlined in the course syllabus. The first interactive simulation required learners to analyze five different case studies that possibly violated different employment related laws focusing on discrimination, determine which (if any) legal statutes applied to the cases, and discuss what the participants believed the outcome should have been based on their course material. The second interactive simulation centered around the learners redesigning the job of a sales associate to be more satisfying and motivating using the Job Characteristics Model from their course materials. The third and final interactive simulation required learners to analyze three potential candidates for a job and decide which candidate should be hired. In each simulation, the professor or a researcher was present and acted as a facilitator whose role was to observe, listen, answer questions, and pose questions to encourage further learner discussion. For both semesters, a survey was emailed to students in the course after the completion of the third activity. While the case studies were required for the course, completion of the survey was voluntary. The survey yielded quantitative data which was analyzed for learner engagement in a synchronous e-learning activity using the medium of Second Life. The researchers expected the outcome of the research to yield a new tool that e-learning facilitators can utilize when administering online courses that will effectively engage learners.
SubjectHRD- Human Resource Development
HR- Human Resources
Bell, Taylor Nicole (2019). How Second Life can be Utilized as a Synchronous Tool in E-Learning Courses to Increase Learner Engagement. Undergraduate Research Scholars Program. Available electronically from