Dissertation

The Effects of instructor-Avatar Immediacy in Second Life, an Immersive and Interactive 3D Virtual Environment” by Sabine Lawless-Reljic

Defended March 3, 2010

RL: San Diego State University, North Education building

Inworld: Second Life, Aztlan Island (Aztlan 136,124,34)

Ustream: live stream no longer available

Google Moderator: http://www.google.com/moderator/#15/e=496c&t=496c.40&f=496c.2100d

Dissertation recording (7 minute teaser)

On March 3rd, 2010, I organized my doctoral defense as a mixed reality event: my avatar defended in Second Life and my committee members were on campus at San Diego State U.

Everything worked like a charm: no region maintenance, my PC did not crash, my chair’s laptop did not crash, and the sim ran smoothly.

While I defended, I relied on friends and colleagues to help with the rest of the event:

Suzanne Aurilio (SL: Aurili Oh) who manages the SDSU SL campus at Aztlan island.
Cathy Arreguin (SL: Mari Asturias) who helped everyone who came inworld and provided with pre-event notices.
Charlie Navarathna and Moonstone Eiren (SL) who recorded the defense and provided a live link to Ustream.
Dr. Brock S. Allen, my chair, who was the technical and avatar link between the SL and RL locations, and who championed the idea that SL was the most appropriate environment in which to defend my research,
and my committee members, Dr. Susan Zgliczynski, Dr. Minjuan Wang, and Dr. Mark Laumakis, who were game with the remote defense in a virtual world.

Below pictures taken by Mari Asturias

ProQuest Document View: http://gradworks.umi.com/34/15/3415637.html

Abstract:

Growing interest of educational institutions in desktop 3D graphic virtual environments for hybrid and distance education prompts questions on the efficacy of such tools. Virtual worlds, such as Second Life?, enable computer-mediated immersion and interactions encompassing multimodal communication channels including audio, video, and text-. These are enriched by avatar-mediated body language and physical manipulation of the environment. In this para-physical world, instructors and students alike employ avatars to establish their social presence in a wide variety of curricular and extra-curricular contexts.

As a proxy for the human body in synthetic 3D environments, an avatar represents a ‘real’ human computer user and incorporates default behavior patterns (e.g., autonomous gestures such as changes in body orientation or movement of hands) as well as expressive movements directly controlled by the user through keyboard `shortcuts.’ Use of headset microphones and various stereophonic effects allows users to project their speech directly from the apparent location of their avatar. In addition, personalized information displays allow users to share graphical information, including text messages and hypertext links. These ‘channels’ of information constituted an integrated and dynamic framework for projecting avatar `immediacy’ behaviors (including gestures, intonation, and patterns of interaction with students), that may positively or negatively affect the degree to which other observers of the virtual world perceive the user represented by the avatar as ‘socially present’ in the virtual world.

This study contributes to the nascent research on educational implementations of Second Life in higher education. Although education researchers have investigated the impact of instructor immediacy behaviors on student perception of instructor social presence, students’ satisfaction, motivation, and learning, few researchers have examined the effects of immediacy behaviors in a 3D virtual environment or the effects of immediacy behaviors manifested by avatars representing instructors.

The study employed a two-factor experimental design to investigate the relationship between instructor avatars’ immediacy behaviors (high vs. low) and students’ perception of instructor immediacy, instructor social presence, student avatars co-presence and learning outcomes in Second Life. The study replicates and extends aspects of an earlier study conducted by Maria Schutt, Brock S. Allen, and Mark Laumakis, including components of the experimental treatments that manipulated the frequency of various types of immediacy behaviors identified by other researchers as potentially related to perception of social presence in face-to-face and mediated instruction. Participants were 281 students enrolled in an introductory psychology course at San Diego State University who were randomly assigned to one of four groups. Each group viewed a different version of the 28-minute teaching session in Second Life on current perspective in psychology.

Data were gathered from student survey responses and tests on the lesson content. Analysis of variance revealed significant differences between the treatment groups (F (3,113) = 6.5, p = .000). Students who viewed the high immediacy machinimas (Group 1 HiHi and Group 2 HiLo) rated the immediacy behaviors of the instructor-avatar more highly than those who viewed the low-immediacy machinimas (Group 3 LoHi and Group 4 LoLo). Findings also demonstrate strong correlations between students’ perception of instructor avatar immediacy and instructor social presence (r = .769). These outcomes in the context of a 3D virtual world are consistent with findings on instructor immediacy and social presence literature in traditional and online classes. Results relative to learning showed that all groups tested higher after viewing the treatment, with no significant differences between groups. Recommendations for current and future practice of using instructor-avatars include paralanguage behaviors such as voice quality, emotion and prosodic features and nonverbal behaviors such as proxemics and gestures, facial expression, lip synchronization and eye contact.

Resources: http://wp.me/P1yhVZ-q

4 responses

4 11 2012
Omer Cabral

i always like headset microphones because they are very handy. .

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1 07 2013
Jade

Valuable information. Lucky me I discovered your website by chance, and I am surprised why this twist of fate did not happened earlier! I bookmarked it.

10 07 2013
Marcia

Hi! I could have sworn I’ve been to this website before but after browsing through some of the articles I realized it’s new to me. Anyways, I’m definitely happy I stumbled upon it and I’ll be book-marking it and checking back frequently!

2 04 2014
sabinereljic

Thank you. I appreciate your interest in my site. I am just recently getting back into it. I hope you’ll continue to follow it and comment on the posts.

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