This exploratory study was designed to examine differences in student preferences related to environmental settings and avatar realism within a 3D collaborative virtual environment (3D CVE), among online-only and blended learning cohorts. Full-time graduate students studying instructional technology at a mid-sized university in the Southeast region of the U.S. were invited to participate in the study. This population was selected for use in this study, as the program is comprised of cohort groups of students who complete their Master's degree requirements within the same cohort group utilizing either fully online or blended course delivery throughout the program. For both groups, all online and blended courses utilized common online learning systems to allow students access to course-specific and shared learning materials, synchronous and asynchronous communication tools, and online university resources. A self-report measure was used to solicit preferences related to text-based systems and the 3D CVE. Results of the data analysis show significant differences between online-only and blended learning cohorts in their preferences related to choice of online learning environment, embedded text elements and physical boundaries in the 3D environment, and avatar customization.
|Keywords:||Social Networking Technologies, Mixed Modes of Sociability, Learning Management Systems|
Assistant Professor of Instructional Technology, Department of Leadership and Educational Studies, Reich College of Education, Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina, USA