Virtual Representations in 3D Learning Environments

Miri Shonfeld, Miki Kritz
2013 Interdisciplinary Journal of e-Skills and Lifelong Learning  
This research explores the extent to which virtual worlds can serve as online collaborative learning environments for students by increasing social presence and engagement. 3D environments enable learning, which simulates face-to-face encounters while retaining the advantages of online learning. Students in Education departments created avatars that represented them at collaborative meetings and activities. The study examines students' choice of Avatar appearance in relation to their own
more » ... nce and their prevailing social and cultural norms. It compares the appearance of avatars chosen by students from different countries and cultures through analysis of observations, questionnaires, and interviews. Does the user's appearance affect his/her avatar's appearance? Does the user's culture affect his/her choice of avatar? Do 3D environments blur multicultural differences? Do similarities between students and their avatars contribute to their learning experience, and if so, in what way? Results indicate that although virtual 3D environments provide freedom, external contexts create powerful boundaries and expectations, leading many participants to seek a socially acceptable online appearance influenced by their cultural norms, as well as by online group identity. This study extends the dual-congruity perspectives of the Avatar Choice Model to a conceptual framework based on a quad-congruity perspective, including the importance of the online group and adding the constraining effect of offline culture and norms on virtual representations.
doi:10.28945/1929 fatcat:stwuialv2zhatogjrxwtwu62eq