|Description||There has been a great deal of attention paid to efforts by educators to integrate teaching methodologies and strategies between face to face and online classrooms in an effort to maximize learning by combining delivery modalities. Recent studies point to students not only learning more when online capabilities were added to traditional courses, but also increasing their level of interaction thereby improving the students‟ sense of satisfaction with the courses taken. These studies tend to isolate deliveries to either all online classes and students or to all on-campus classes and students, without taking into account the more recent movement of blending teaching methods and crossing over the barriers between online and face to face students. So, what happens when online students are given the opportunity, through the use of virtual world technologies, to engage with students attending traditional on-campus sessions?
The purpose of this case study is to evaluate the use of virtual world technologies as a platform for the conduct of synchronous and asynchronous classroom activities. A framework for conducting an undergraduate „Technology Project Management‟ course is presented that includes delivery approaches to students from both online (Distance Education) class offerings and on-campus (Face-to-face) class offerings. Stand-alone, asynchronous, or synchronous learning modalities are incorporated into the framework.
To evaluate the framework, a composite evaluation of survey, responses, and assessments analysis are examined. Discussion includes the challenges of developing and presenting this framework as well as managing the instructional complexities involved in the planning and execution of virtual world interactions in the classroom setting. Further discussion includes use of virtual teaming sessions and self-paced online case studies; incorporation of in-world interactive learning modules; assessment of impromptu, in-world, e-learning sessions in the form of informal student interactions; and use of online text and voice chat capabilities. The data indicates, surprisingly, that the learning curve for students was not as steep as expected and that overall the students felt reasonably comfortable with the introduction of this technology into their learning environments. Finally, there is little evidence, beyond pedagogical preference, of adverse effects in using this framework while there were some initially positive small gains in the online students‟ performance related to learning objectives using the virtual world technologies.||en_US