Collaborative Virtual Environments as Means to Increase the Level

Spring 2008

Source: Journal of Research on Technology in Education, Volume 40 Number 3, Spring 2008, p. 339-57.

Virtual environments are able to extend the space of interaction beyond the classroom. In order to analyze how distributed cognition functions in such an extended space, we suggest focusing on the architecture of intersubjectivity.

The Euroland project—a virtual land created and populated by seven classrooms supported by a team of researchers—was analyzed with the aim of tracking down the process and the structure of intersubjectivity. Participants were located in different cities in two countries—Italy and the Netherlands. At the end of the project, the initial empty virtual world was filled with virtual artifacts borne from the intersubjective process.

A group of ten 13-year-old students was observed throughout the project. Seven videotapes were collected in the classroom. By analyzing the videotapes, a set of episodes revealing intersubjectivity was captured and discussed. Intersubjectivity first concerned only participants and tools located in the classroom.

Later, partners at a distance and the various communication tools available entered the architecture of intersubjectivity. Finally, intersubjectivity revealed not only information, but the reciprocal perception of the roles and awareness of a joint project. From the episode analysis, recommendations for teachers’ use of virtual technology were drawn.

Updated: Apr. 12, 2008