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Social Familiarity in Virtual Learning Environments - An Empirical Approach on Engineering Students' Interaction in Collaborative Minecraft Scenarios

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Conference

2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016

ISBN

978-0-692-68565-5

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Student Teams, Groups, and Collaborations

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count

16

DOI

10.18260/p.25824

Permanent URL

https://strategy.asee.org/25824

Download Count

279

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Paper Authors

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Laura Lenz M.Sc. RWTH Aachen University

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Laura Lenz is a PhD student at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, institute IMA/ZLW & IfU, at RWTH Aachen University in Germany. She has two Bachelor of Arts degrees, one in Media Culture and one in European Studies. She successfully finished her Master of Science Degree in Game Studies. In the course of her Master, she did a 6 months internship as a Junior Researcher at NYU in New York City, USA. She is inter alia active in research surrounding e-learning, virtual reality, (serious) game design, remote work and gamification.

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Lana Plumanns M.Sc. RWTH Aachen University

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Since January 2015, Lana Plumanns has been a PhD student at the Faculty of Mechanical Enigeering at RWTH Aachen University, Germany. Within the Institute Cluster IMA/ ZLW & IfU, she works in the research group Economic and Social Cybernetics. Before that she successfully finished her Master of Science Degree in Psychology. During her studies she has spent time abroad, studying at, among others, Concordia University, Canada. In her work as scientific researcher, she focuses on diagnostic factors in the field of (virtual) learning and cooperation, human-machine interaction, change and innovation management.

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Kerstin Groß Mag. RWTH Aachen University

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Kerstin Groß is research assistant at the IMA/ZLW & IfU. Her current research interests center around Didactics in STEM fields. She studied Philosophy, Modern German Literature and Zoology at the University of Bonn where she received her M.A. with the thesis “Die Philosophie Albert Einsteins”. During her studies, she worked as a student assistant at the Department of Communication and Organization at the institute cluster from 2007 to 2011 and in the field of public relations and journalism.

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Katharina Schuster RWTH Aachen University

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Katharina Schuster has been working as a scientific researcher at IMA/ZLW & IfU (IMA - Institute of Information Management in Mechanical Engineering, ZLW - Center for Learning and Knowledge Management & IfU - Assoc. Institute for Management Cybernetics e.V.) of RWTH Aachen University since 2009.

She has completed her Master's Degree in Communication Sciences, Psychology and Political Sciences at RWTH Aachen University and has spent time abroad in the USA, Spain and Slovenia. Mrs. Schuster leads the research group Didactics in STEM Fields. Her main research interests are virtual learning environments, service-based learning and Open Innovation for University Management. In her dissertation (finished in 2014), she investigated the impact of immersive user interfaces on presence and learning.

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Sabina Jeschke RWTH Aachen University

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Sabina Jeschke became head of the IMA/ZLW & IfU Institute Cluster of the RWTH Aachen University in June 2009. She studied Physics, Computer Science and Mathematics at the Berlin University of Technology. After research stays at the NASA Ames Research Center/ California and the Georgia Institute of Technology/Atlanta, she gained a doctorate on “Mathematics in Virtual Knowledge Environments” in 2004. Following a junior professorship (2005-2007) at the TU Berlin with the construction and direction of its media center, she was head of the Institute of Information Technology Services (IITS) for electrical engineering at the University of Stuttgart from May 2007 to May 2009, where she was also the director of the Central Information Technology Services (RUS) at the same time. Some of the main areas of her research are complex IT-systems (e.g. cloud computing, Internet of Things, green IT & ET, semantic web services), robotics and automation (e.g. heterogeneous and cooperative robotics, cooperative agents, web services for robotics), traffic and mobility (autonomous and semi-autonomous traffic systems, international logistics, car2car & car2X models) and virtual worlds for research alliances (e.g. virtual and remote laboratories, intelligent assistants, semantic coding of specialised information). Sabina Jeschke is vice dean of the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering of the RWTH Aachen University, chairwoman of the board of management of the VDI Aachen and member of the supervisory board of the Körber AG. She is a member and consultant of numerous committees and commissions, alumni of the German National Academic Foundation (Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes), IEEE Senior Member and Fellow of the RWTH Aachen University. In July 2014, the Gesellschaft für Informatik (GI) honoured her with their award Deutschlands digitale Köpfe (Germany's digital heads). In September 2015 she was awarded the Nikola-Tesla Chain by the International Society of Engineering Pedagogy (IGIP) for her outstanding achievements in the field of engineering pedagogy.

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Anja Richert RWTH Aachen University

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Prof. Dr. phil. Anja Richert

Managing Director of the Center for Learning and Knowledge Management (ZLW), RWTH Aachen University; Junior Professorship for Agile Management in Organization and Technology in the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, RWTH Aachen University

Anja Richert took up the position of managing director of the Center for Learning and Knowledge Management of the RWTH Aachen University in February 2011. With a doctorate in Communication Science, she has been working at the IMA/ZLW & IfU Institute Cluster since 2003, from 2008 to 2010 as manager of the Business and Research Division: Knowledge Management. In 2004 Anja Richert completed her degree in Communication Science with a distinction at the RWTH Aachen University. In December 2007, she gained her doctorate in the field of e-learning, likewise with a distinction. In the years 2010 and 2011 she received the International E-Learning Award (IELA) for the projects ROLE and RELOAD with the e-learning solutions developed under her leadership. Furthermore, she is a lecturer at the Mechanical Engineering Faculty of the RWTH Aachen University for a course on learning and work habits (compulsory elective subject for the degree course in Mechanical Engineering). Her main areas of research are the development of agile turbulence-tolerant processes and organizational concepts for knowledge and technology-intensive organizations, the development of knowledge management solutions and e-learning tools (e.g. knowledge maps) for various fields, as well as accompanying research for complex organizational development processes in heterogeneous research networks.

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Abstract

Virtual learning environments are already widely used, for example in the form of Massive Open Online Courses, but also within other e-learning solutions such as virtual labs. Nowadays, these are combined with Big Data learning analytics, which aim at individualizing and optimizing teaching processes through virtual, statistical or artificial intelligence approaches. One of the major issues that are commonly connected to e-learning and e-collaboration is that they will evolve at the cost of personal contact and classical social interaction.

In a virtual reality study on collaborative digital learning habits using the Oculus Rift, headphones, microphones and/or laptops, this problem has been addressed. The results show that engineering students could work together successfully solving a previously unknown task in Minecraft without knowing each other. Therefore, anonymity appears to be a nowadays self-evident phenomenon, which does not hinder students from interacting spontaneously - and successfully!

The experimental set-up demanded that the 48 test persons (23 pairs of two, one pair needed to be excluded due to simulator sickness) solved a collaborative task in anonymous pair constellations. The required Minecraft items to solve this assignment were distributed randomly so that the task could only be mastered by working together.

Interestingly, most teams performed very well although the subjects did not know each other – and in a way, they were not even interested in it. Less than 5 pairs greeted and introduced themselves to their partner. This leads to the hypothesis that virtual collaboration does not only severely differ from classical real-life interaction, but leads to the establishment of completely new social structures and practices.

This paper addresses the questions in how far virtual collaborations equals/differs from real-life problem solving, how virtual collaboration environments should generally be designed and lastly, which the advantages and disadvantages of virtual collaboration are - with regards to an approaching Industry 4.0.

Lenz, L., & Plumanns, L., & Groß, K., & Schuster, K., & Jeschke, S., & Richert, A. (2016, June), Social Familiarity in Virtual Learning Environments - An Empirical Approach on Engineering Students' Interaction in Collaborative Minecraft Scenarios Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25824

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