Factors that hinder and assist learning in virtual environments: a case study
Working, playing and learning in virtual environments will become increasingly important in the future. Such spaces, it is claimed, allow for realistic social interaction and present opportunities for providing motivational learning environments. For example the School of Computer Science at the University of Hertfordshire have recently established an online campus within Second Life. In this paper we present part of a four year research programme into some of the problems and issues inherent in studying and working in non-immersive virtual environments such as Second Life. We found that many learners experience difficulty with navigation in such spaces and that this may significantly affect task performance and attitude. In the first of a series of studies, important variables that affect navigation in such spaces were identified and their effects on task performance, ability to recall information and attitude to the environments were measured and are presented. In the final part of the paper we discuss how our findings are applicable to learning in virtual spaces such as Second Life.