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Assessing the Feasibility of Using Virtual Environments in Distance Education

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Author(s): Constance M. Johnson | Kirsten N. Corazzini | Ryan Shaw

Journal: Knowledge Management & E-Learning : an International Journal
ISSN 2073-7904

Volume: 3;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 5;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Keywords: Internet | Online education | Virtual environments | Constructivism | Computer-assisted instruction

ABSTRACT
Learning is an active, social process. However, many distance education programs are flat and asynchronous with limited interaction. Virtual environments may be best equipped to foster an active social learning environment that provides optimal distance education. This study explored how nursing informatics students perceived the strengths and limitations of three different online modalities of learning: Learning Management System, Webinar, and Virtual Environments. Student perceptions of nine learning and instructional technology domains were explored using the Student Assessment of Learning Gains instrument (Seymour, Wiese, Hunter, & Daffinrud, 2000) with additional, open-ended question. Two concurrent themes arose from the three platforms: technical challenges and students showing preference for synchronous web-based learning. Virtual Environments emerged as the favored distance based education. As the availability and use of these technologies proliferates, educators are challenged to understand the effects of these technologies on student learning outcomes to optimize student learning.

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