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Appears in:
Pages: 3349-3360
Publication year: 2009
ISBN: 978-84-612-9801-3
ISSN: 2340-1117

Conference name: 1st International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 6-8 July, 2009
Location: Barcelona ,Spain

A 3D ENVIRONMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL COLLABORATION. ADDED VALUE OF SYNCHRONOUS AND ASYNCHRONOUS COMMUNICATION FORMATS

H. Van der Meijden

Radboud University Nijmegen (NETHERLANDS)
Computer technology stimulates collaboration at a distance and provides space for learning groups using the internet
In the present study, desktop virtual reality software Active Worlds (http://www.activeworlds.com) was used to create an interactive learning environment for international collaboration. 42 Students (Dutch and Italian) worked together online on a collaborative task: the construction of several virtual houses within a 3D environment.
To establish individual accountability and positive interdependence (Johnson & Johnson, 1994), it was agreed that the Dutch students construct and decorate the Italian cultural houses and the Italian students construct and decorate the Dutch cultural houses. The students thus needed each other for information and the collection of materials.

Three weekly synchronous meetings were scheduled for instruction and technical guidance. Furthermore, the students could connect anytime they wanted from home or school to make textual contributions or construct 3D objects. Communication was by chat during the virtual meetings and by discussion forum at any time.

The research question was:
Does the incorporation of an asynchronous discussion format into a synchronous 3D virtual learning environment have a surplus value for the interactional behavior of students?

Both synchronous as asynchronous communication were saved (chatlogs and discussion forum). To examine the verbal contributions of the students to the chat sessions and the discussion forum, a coding scheme was used with five dimensions: cognitive, affective, regulative contributions, non-task-related remarks, and greetings, developed by Van der Meijden (2005).
Approximately 9 hours of chat (out of 80 hours) were analyzed as well as 159 messages in the discussion forum, and consequently compared with each other.

The incidence of cognitive contributions was relatively low in the chat sessions and higher in the asynchronous messages. The students used significantly more affective, regulative statements and greetings in the chat sessions than in the discussion forum. The chat sessions appeared to lend themselves to the establishment of interpersonal relationships and immediate contact with others, while the discussion forum appeared to be more suited for the storage of information, provision of elaborations, and reflection. These findings are in keeping with the results of a study by Schwier and Balbar (2002) who found an asynchronous communication format to allow for greater depth of discussion and reflection than a synchronous chat format, which was found to be of great value for building a sense of community.

This learning environment was very new for the students. The students were confronted with an unknown learning environment and a collaborative learning task that required them to perform many different actions, such as chatting with other students in English - which was a second language for all of the participants, navigating around a virtual world, constructing 3D objects, and actively processing the information provided. Participants were very motivated and engaged in all kinds of new activities. All of these activities could easily overburden the cognitive capacities of the participants according to cognitive load theory (Bodemer, Ploetzer, Feuerlein, & Spada, 2004), wich cluld be an explanation of the low number of cognitive information shared by the students.
@InProceedings{VANDERMEIJDEN2009A3D,
author = {Van der Meijden, H.},
title = {A 3D ENVIRONMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL COLLABORATION. ADDED VALUE OF SYNCHRONOUS AND ASYNCHRONOUS COMMUNICATION FORMATS},
series = {1st International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies},
booktitle = {EDULEARN09 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-612-9801-3},
issn = {2340-1117},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Barcelona ,Spain},
month = {6-8 July, 2009},
year = {2009},
pages = {3349-3360}}
TY - CONF
AU - H. Van der Meijden
TI - A 3D ENVIRONMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL COLLABORATION. ADDED VALUE OF SYNCHRONOUS AND ASYNCHRONOUS COMMUNICATION FORMATS
SN - 978-84-612-9801-3/2340-1117
PY - 2009
Y1 - 6-8 July, 2009
CI - Barcelona ,Spain
JO - 1st International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
JA - EDULEARN09 Proceedings
SP - 3349
EP - 3360
ER -
H. Van der Meijden (2009) A 3D ENVIRONMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL COLLABORATION. ADDED VALUE OF SYNCHRONOUS AND ASYNCHRONOUS COMMUNICATION FORMATS, EDULEARN09 Proceedings, pp. 3349-3360.
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