Murray and Dozier (2015) argued that little research has been done on Secondary Life (SL) as a communication tool in distant education. Specifically, this study was about how students perceive SL as a method of learning and communicating to other students in distant education. First, the researchers formulated two research questions that focused on students’ feelings and perceptions about SL and if students have a sense of belonging in a community of distant education. Next, the researchers compared SL to the following: email, WebCT, Skype and Wimba. The researchers argued, furthermore, that for communicating and learning to take place in DE, it must be associated with the appropriated pedagogical choices. Students must also understand the use and purpose of technology in distant learning. Finally, students may use nonverbal communication, such as emoticons, for a replacement of nonverbal communication.
Murray and Dozier (2015) gathered data that addressed the research questions. The study population included 76 graduate students who attended a DE graduate level course in the UK. The graduate level course lasted for 3 years. At the end of each year, each student was asked to complete an online survey that consisted of 20 questions using a Likert-scale and, in addition, three open ended questions. Both the survey questions and open-ended questions were related to SL communication, community building and learning. The researchers used SPSS to perform the data analysis on the survey data. The open-ended questions were coded for emerging themes and patterns. In the data analysis, most of the students rated SL as fair for communicating with other students and instructors. In addition, the students rated SL as fair when in comparison to other forms of communication. It was nearly fifty-fifty when finding SL made them feel part of the community. And, it was nearly fifty-fifty when they felt the rating helped their learning.
I believe SL is a communication tool that could cause cognition and learning in distant learning. As the study reveals, not all of us are comfortable when speaking up in class. Some students may have something critical to add to the discussion but may not raise their hand because of apprehension. SL allows an environment where much discussion and communication could take place on multiple subjects. I think SL is a 21st century online learning tool that has unlimited potential. Finally, I think this study is reliable.
Murray, J. J., Hale, F. F., & Dozier, M. M. (2015). Use and Perceptions of Second Life by Distance Learners: A Comparison with Other Communication Media. International Journal Of E-Learning & Distance Education, 30(2), 1-22.