Journal of Management Information Systems

Volume 26 Number 1 2009 pp. 73-100

Engaging Group E-Learning in Virtual Worlds

Franceschi, Katherine, Lee, Ronald M, Zanakis, Stelios H, and Hinds, David

ABSTRACT: E-learning has seen tremendous growth in recent years. More and more, university courses are now available online to a potentially global audience. However, a significant shortcoming of e-learning technologies has been poor support for group-oriented learning. We believe that virtual worlds offer a potential solution. Unlike videoconferencing (for instance), virtual worlds provide a shared visual space for students to meet and interact (via avatars). Not only do students share the quasi-realism of a 3D environment where participants can see and hear one another, they also have the capability to manipulate artifacts together. These factors provide a strong sense of group presence, which leads to engaging group learning interactions.

Key words and phrases: business education, e-learning, massively multiplayer online game (MMOG), massively multiplayer online role-playing game, online learning, social presence, virtual engagement, virtual worlds