Vol. 30 No. 2 (2015)
Research Articles

Use and Perceptions of Second Life by Distance Learners: Comparison with Other Communication Media

Jo-Anne Murray
University of Glasgow
Fiona Hale
University of Edinburgh
Marshall Dozier
University of Edinburgh

Published 2015-08-03

How to Cite

Murray, J.-A., Hale, F., & Dozier, M. (2015). Use and Perceptions of Second Life by Distance Learners: Comparison with Other Communication Media. International Journal of E-Learning & Distance Education Revue Internationale Du E-Learning Et La Formation à Distance, 30(2). Retrieved from https://www.ijede.ca/index.php/jde/article/view/922


Research has demonstrated that the use of communication media in distance education can reduce the feeling of distance and isolation from peers and tutor, and provide opportunities for collaborative learning activities (Bates, 2005). The use of virtual worlds (VW) in education has increased in recent years, with Second Life (SL) being the most commonly used VW in higher education (Wang & Burton, 2012). There is a paucity of information available on students’ use and perceptions of SL in relation to other online communication media available to the distance learner. Consequently, in the study described here, this area was explored with a group of students registered in a part-time distance education Master’s program at a large UK University open to international students. A self-completion survey was designed to assess students’ use and perceptions of using SL compared with other communication media. The majority of students rated SL lower than other forms of communications media such as email, WebCT discussion boards, Skype, and Wimba for facilitating communication, promoting the formation of social networks, fostering a sense of community, and benefiting their learning.  It is possible that the results of this study were influenced by the lower frequency of use of SL in this program compared to other work reported on this subject. Further work is required to evaluate the effect of frequency of use of SL and availability of alternative communication media on students’ use and perceptions of this virtual world.


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