Learning alone together: A qualitative investigation exploring virtual connectedness

Pauletta Irwin, Rosanne Coutts

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A shift in pedagogy is required to accommodate the broad adoption of technology enhanced teaching strategies in higher education. Academics are increasingly being challenged to shift from a position of viewing online learning as providing access to course work with mostly asynchronous activities to the promotion of inclusive, connected learning opportunities. The aim of this research was to explore the learning relationships that were developed after interacting in the virtual world of Second Life. The research adopts a qualitative approach within the setting of a tri-campus higher education institute. The participants were undergraduate nurses, academics, and registered nurses. Their experiences and perspectives were captured through observation, interviews, and the collection of artefacts. Three themes emerged: Second Life can enhance preexisting real-world relationships and may augment new communities of learners; learning together can enhance motivation; and Second Life supports the establishment and development of peer relationships. Significant and unique findings clearly identify that learning connections can be established and maintained when interacting in Second Life. Furthermore, the learning connections forged through Second Life experiences suggest that the use of this platform can elicit, sustain, and enhance intrinsic motivation. A recommendation from this research is to encourage and support academics to adopt the use of technology enhanced teaching strategies such as Second Life. Further research to examine the transferability of the learning outcomes from the virtual world to the clinical environment is recommended.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal on Innovations in Online Education
Issue number4
Early online date2020
Publication statusPublished - 11 Feb 2021


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