Impressions of Distance Learning #3

by Karen McLaughlin
April 7, 1995

We all seem to be quite comfortable with the technology now. We're beginning to talk without raising our hands and respond to each other's comments more. This type of interaction more closely resembles the discussions in a typical classroom, but does tend to result in discussions becoming centered in one location or another for a time.

Our Information Retreival group recently participated in a MOO- a virtual environment- in order to jointly prepare our home page for the group. I enjoyed the experience very much an recommend it as a required event to bring students from the two locations together during the first few weeks of class. The MOO wasn't especially productive for us because a few members carried on disruptive conversations on the side. But I think this sort of distraction could be avoided if the groups meet initially for the single purpose of getting acquainted. Then future meetings in the MOO can be more productive.

I was surprised to realize later what a sense of physical location I had from the simple, textual environment of the MOO. I felt as though I was actually in a conference room, sitting around a table with other people. I had a sense of people within the room acting up and distracting the rest of us from focusing on the blackboard and on our objectives. I can only imagine what a graphically-based environment could do for my sense of location.