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The failure of a Virtual Social Space (VSS) designed to create a learning community: lessons learned

McPherson, M.A. and Nunes, J.M.B. (2004) The failure of a Virtual Social Space (VSS) designed to create a learning community: lessons learned. The British Journal of Educational Technology (BJET), 35 (3). pp. 305-321.

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Abstract

The disappearance of physical social spaces from today's society is seen by some to be a modern phenomenon, resulting in isolation and lack of socialisation. In fact, this is always the case in distance education, due to geographical dispersion and disparate time schedules of learners. Very often, peer-to-peer socialisation in distance education only occurs as part of formal learning activities, or is just left to the student's own initiative. This situation is compounded by the modularity of Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs), forcing students to jump from one module space to another as they progress through a course. All discussion threads, conversations or record of previous dialogues are then lost. This paper reports on the design, development and extensive evaluation of a Virtual Social Space (VSS) conceived to address these problems and to support the creation of a learning community for a Continuing Professional Distance Education (CPDE) Masters in IT Management. An action research approach was adopted to establish student needs, design and develop the site and to explore it with students. Initially received with enthusiasm and perceived as a good idea by the students, the VSS was not entirely successful. This paper discusses how characteristics of this cohort had an impact on students' perception and usage of this social space to create a learning community.

Item Type: Article
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > Information School (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Information Studies
Date Deposited: 23 Mar 2009 15:29
Last Modified: 13 May 2009 18:52
Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.0007-1013.2004.00391.x
Status: Published
Publisher: Wiley
Refereed: Yes
Identification Number: 10.1111/j.0007-1013.2004.00391.x
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/8063

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