Social Interactions in Virtual Communication Environments: Using Sakai to Teach Forensic Science

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperChapter


Forensic science students must not only learn disciplinary-specific subject content, but also need to acquire the interpersonal and communication skills crucial for successful careers in policing and biotechnology. Utilizing various Web 2.0 computer-mediated communication (CMC) technologies, asynchronous and synchronous communication, including chat rooms, podcasts, resource sharing and wikis, enabled the creation of virtual active-learning environments. A virtual crime scene was produced to permit distance and face-to-face university students to conduct a virtual forensics investigation. The virtual model allowed students to gain and become aware of the practical communication skills consistent with 'real-life' forensic crime scene analysis. Specifically, the use of virtual role-play reproduced patterns of dialogue routine among police officers, crime scene officers and lab technicians. CMC technologies not only facilitated these social interactions, but gave distance education students a simulated forensic workplace experience not possible due to cost, location and time. This narrowed preconceived gaps between distance and internal education. Finally, our chapter argues that with careful planning, the use of role playing and scripting can be an effective tool for encouraging pedagogically effective social interactions utilizing new CMC technologies
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInteraction in Communication Technologies and Virtual Learning Environments
Subtitle of host publicationHuman Factors
EditorsAngela Ragusa
Place of PublicationUnited States
PublisherInformation Science Reference
Number of pages15
ISBN (Print)9781605668741
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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