Understanding Social Learning Behaviors via a Virtual Field Trip
Keywords:Simulations, Social Cognition, Educational Technology, Role-playing
This is a multidisciplinary study investigating how a virtual rather than face-to-face field trip can be conducted in a real-world setting and how students respond to such a social learning opportunity. Our participants followed a story of a stroke patient at her virtual home and in a virtual hospital via a teaching vignette. They were then given a new case and got on a virtual trip via a multiuser virtual environment. They played the roles of patients, relatives, doctors, or nurses, experiencing the emotional, physical, or social impacts those stakeholders may go through. Our study finds the overall participation of the Virtual Group is 50% more than the Text Group. Although the Virtual Group generates much more nodes in total, they focused much less on knowledge sharing and comparing than the Text Group (46 vs. 67), but more on other higher-level aspects of social interactions, such as knowledge discovery (57 vs. 42), co-construction (66 vs. 39), testing and modification (58 vs. 24) and application of newly constructed meaning (60 vs. 16). Analysis of students’ virtual field activities and in-depth discussions of important issues implied are included to help understand social learning behaviors during a virtual field trip. Sustainability of such systems is discussed.
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