Supporting Social Awareness among University Students with Collaborative Virtual Environments
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This thesis is about supporting social awareness among university students with 3D Collaborative Virtual Environments (CVEs). Learning is essentially a social activity. Therefore, social awareness can be beneficial for university students in their working and social activities, facilitating cooperation, and sharing of resources and providing a good social climate. Social awareness is defined as awareness of the social situation in a group or a community in a shared environment, which can be physical, virtual or both. As the mechanisms available in the university environment are not always sufficient for supporting social awareness, this thesis proposes using 3D Collaborative Virtual Environments for such support. To validate this proposal, the thesis presents a set of requirements and a place metaphor for a CVE for social awareness support. A virtual world, Viras, (Virtual Awareness Support), designed according to these requirements, has been evaluated in case studies involving university students. The contributions of this thesis can be summarized as follows: C1. Identification and discussion of existing mechanisms for social awareness support among university students and their limitations. C2. A characterization of CVEs and associated awareness mechanisms along the dimensions of learner, place and artifact. C3. A characterization of place metaphors in educational CVEs, and Archipelago, a place metaphor for a CVE for social awareness support, combining features of the identified metaphors. C4. A set of requirements along the dimensions of learner, place and artifact, according to the needs of learning communities and groups. C5. Viras: design and implementation of a 3D virtual world, for social awareness support, in two phases. C6. Evaluation of Viras by case studies in a university environment. This thesis is both theoretically and empirically based. The theoretical base includes socio-cultural theories and the existing research in the CVE field. The empirical evaluation includes case studies involving students at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. The requirements, the design and therefore the answers to the research questions are formed in an iterative fashion, through the development of Viras and evaluation of it in the empirical cases. The work described in this thesis has been performed within the framework of the CAGIS research project, financed by the Norwegian Research Council.
Består avPrasolova-Førland, E; Divitini, M. Supporting learning communities with collaborative virtual environments:. Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Advanced Learning Technologies (ICALT’02). - Kazan, Tatarstan, Russia, 9-12 September 2002: 259-264, 2002.
Prasolova-Førland, E; Divitini, M. Supporting Social Awareness:. Proceedings of the 3rd IEEE International Conference on Advanced Learning Technologies (ICALT’03), - Athens, Greece, 9-11 July 2003: 366-367, 2003.
Prasolova-Førland, E; Divitini, M. Collaborative Virtual Environments for Supporting Learning Communities:. Proceedings of the International ACM SIGGROUP Conference on Supporting Group Work (GROUP’03) - Sanibel Island, Florida, USA, 9-12, November 2003: 58-67, 2003.
Prasolova-Førland, E. Virtual Spaces as Artifacts:. Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Cyberworlds (Cyberworlds’03) - Singapore, 3-5 December 2003: 396-403, 2003.
Prasolova-Førland, E. Repository of virtual places as community memory. Proceedings of the 9th International Conference on Virtual Systems and Multimedia (VSMM’03), Hybrid reality: Art, Technology and the Human Factor - Montreal, Canada, 15-17 October 2003: 242-250, 2003.
Prasolova-Førland, E. A Repository of Virtual Places as Community Memory: an Experience of Use.. Proceedings of the ACM SIGGRAPH International Conference on Virtual Reality Continuum and its Applications in Industry (VRCAI’04) - Singapore, 16-18 June 2004, 2004.