Taking Science Online: Evaluating Presence and Immersion through a Laboratory Experience in a Virtual Learning Environment for Entomology Students

By Annetta, Leonard; Klesath, Marta et al. | Journal of College Science Teaching, September-October 2009 | Go to article overview

Taking Science Online: Evaluating Presence and Immersion through a Laboratory Experience in a Virtual Learning Environment for Entomology Students


Annetta, Leonard, Klesath, Marta, Meyer, John, Journal of College Science Teaching


[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

A virtual insect-collecting expedition has some advantages over a traditional real-world field trip, and study results indicate that student participants experience high levels of presence and immersion in the virtual environment.

People are using a variety of communication technologies to connect with each other easily, informally, and on many levels. Harnessing the education power of these electronic communications is one of the most interesting and challenging issues facing distance-education programs in higher education. Concerns about technology-enhanced communication replacing face-to-face interaction are slowly subsiding due to a nascent recognition that social interaction and interpersonal connections are valuable aspects of technology (New Media Consortium 2005) and indicators of learning (Annetta and Shymansky 2006).

The notion of e-learning has been in the distance educator's vocabulary for many years, but recent developments in technology and the maturation of Net Generation students have brought a new addition: v-learning (Annetta and Holmes 2007). The v in v-learning stands for virtual (as in "virtual learning environment"), which refers to the immersive, three-dimensional space where people can interact in real time online. As the Net Generation (currently the leading population playing online games) reaches college age, the adaptation of a three-dimensional, gamelike environment into a virtual classroom seems to be the natural evolution in online learning. Hence, the focus of this study was to measure virtual presence and immersion in a synchronous, online lab.

For many years, distance-education research has seen no significant difference between achievement in traditional classroom classes and achievement in online classes (Russell 1999). However, with the pervasiveness of synchronous environments and web 2.0, indicators of learning such as engagement, immersion, and presence are shedding light on the relative effectiveness of teaching online. In this study, we hypothesize that 3-D virtual learning environments will provide a high level of presence and immersion regardless of gender.

With some 3.5 million students in the United States taking courses from a distance, it is critical that issues such as common standards and teaching effectiveness be addressed within distance education. Research has indicated that a virtual presence is directly correlated with a student's success and satisfaction (Annetta, Klesath, and Holmes 2008). Barfield and Hendrix (1995) distinguished virtual presence from real-world presence as the extent to which participants believe they are somewhere different than their actual physical location while experiencing a computer-generated simulation. To understand why using 3-D virtual learning environments for teaching online is important, we must first understand the target audience today. Annetta and Holmes (2007) reported that the use of avatars (digital representations of oneself) in a 3-D virtual learning environment seemingly tricks the mind into thinking the user is actually present in the virtual world. Chris Dede, Harvard professor of learning science, explained quite clearly the idea of new-millennial learning styles and how technology is affecting how students learn. According to Dede, "By its nature the Web rewards comparing multiple sources of information, individually incomplete and collectively inconsistent" (2005, p. 7). Therefore, one can conclude that this type of learning, based on seeking, sieving, and synthesizing, differs from learning that focuses on the assimilation of information presented by a single "validated" source of knowledge, such as a textbook or professor.

These ideas were the driving force for the development of a supplemental online 3-D virtual field trip that was integrated into an online college entomology course. This bold new approach to online instruction in the sciences was developed as a trial for the possible incorporation of future virtual environments to supplement online higher education laboratories. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Taking Science Online: Evaluating Presence and Immersion through a Laboratory Experience in a Virtual Learning Environment for Entomology Students
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.