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Student as Avatar: A Study of Informational Preferences in a Virtual World Class

Student as avatarSome of you may be interested in the following article, which appears in MERLOT journal of Online Learning and Teaching: Mabrito, M. (2012). Student as avatar: A study of informational preferences in a virtual world class. MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 8(2), 111-121. Read the article.

There is a growing interest among educators in exploring multi-user virtual environments (MUVEs) such as Second Life as platforms for distance learning and other applications. Yet, the notion that virtual worlds also provide an opportunity for writing instructors to teach about multimodal texts and new media literacies is an area that has received less attention. This study examined the informational preferences of avatars (students) who were members of a class that met online in the virtual world of Second Life. Specifically, the purpose was to assess avatars’ informational preferences from among three different media: print articles, machinima, and direct exploration within Second Life while enrolled in a course studying virtual worlds. It was found that avatars expressed a greater preference for information gathered from machinima and information gathered firsthand from Second Life than print-based information. However, over time, they expressed a greater preference for information drawn directly from Second Life. Their subsequent discussions about the information varied in specificity, depending on the medium they were referencing.

Read the article.

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