Over the past several weeks, my discussion has focused on a specific use of virtual learning within MUVE such as Second Life. During the next couple of weeks I would like to generalize the discussion towards virtual learning based on the discussion in current research literature on the topic within other realms of virtual learning.
Virtual learning environments (VLE) after all, are defined within the domain of e-learning, which could encompass a-synchronous environments, such as Blackboard, and synchronous environments, such as 3D environments like Second Life -- used by schools to facilitate classes from a distance (Bromham & Oprandi, 2006; Nishide, et. al., 2007).
Questions relating to VLE that I have been asking myself throughout this exercise concern how a real learner approaches virtual learning experience. More specifically, how well are changes in learners facilitated by the virtual learning experience as compared to traditional environments? And, are the changes which take place influenced more by the technology or the pedagogy?
Bromham & Oprandi (2006) studied how the virtual learning experience assisted learners especially when hybridized with face to face classes to create metacognitive change in developing self-study and self-assessment skills in learners. This study would seem to relate with the assumption that learners would need more than just a text based learning environment like Blackboard to best learn. Nevertheless, many learners have completed 100% online classes through Blackboard.
Consider how easy it might be to place someone in a virtual learning environment, noting how the technology creates the environment, and also influences a learner's perception. What I am getting at here is how instructional designers need to consider the holistic nature of virtual learning and how it has implications that are just now being explored. The virtual learning environment is an 'environment', which needs to be analyzed the same as we would analyze a classroom or work environment.
Bormham, L. & Oprandi, P. (2006). Evolution online: Usine a virtual learning environment to develop active learning in undergraduates. Journal of Biological Education, 41(1), 21-25.
Nishide, R., Shima, R., Araie, H., & Ueshima, S. (2007). Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia, 16(1), 5-24.