[Posted on behalf of Louis Nisiotis: firstname.lastname@example.org]
My name is Louis Nisiotis and I am a doctoral student at Sheffield Hallam University. I am conducting an experimental study as part of my PhD degree and I would like to invite you to participate.
My research aims to analyse the flexibility of cyber campuses to support learning and overcome barriers that restrict students from accessing and participating in the University.
There are many reasons why some students cannot regularly attend university, varying from temporary illnesses to chronic medical conditions, army obligations, caring commitments, etc. that restrict their travel from, to and around the educational institution. Attendance and participation in learning is an invaluable experience where the students not only obtain important information but also develop their understanding and skills by interacting with peers and tutors. To support these students, institutions are adopting E-Learning technologies to allow them to access education at a distance. One of these technologies is the use of virtual worlds in the form of cyber campuses.
Cyber campuses are specially designed meeting points that operate on Multi-User Virtual Environments (like Second Life), where users can gather virtually and exchange learning materials, communicate and collaborate in a state of the art 3D environment over the Internet.
For the needs of my research, I have designed a cyber campus prototype and I am investigating its flexibility to support students learning and overcome barriers of access and participation to the university. To perform this investigation, I am conducting a series of experimental studies that requires the participation of current or recent students.
I invite members of the DRF who, for any reason might face obstacles that restrict their attendance and participation to the university, to participate in two experimental sessions that will be held in the virtual world.
During this unique experience, you will have the opportunity to immerse in the virtual world, virtually meet and interact with other members in real time and attend a learning scenario simulation from the comforts of your own environment.
The sessions are scheduled as follows: (dates and times of the sessions will be mutually agreed.)
Session 1: Introduction, orientation and virtual lecture. In this session, you will learn how to navigate, communicate and interact with other users and objects in the virtual world. After that, a virtual lecture based on the use of virtual worlds in education will take place. Following the lecture, you will undertake a virtual quiz and then participate in a group activity.
Session 2: Focus Group discussion. This session will take place on a different date. In this session, we shall virtually gather together in a friendly focus group and discuss: What are the barriers that make your access and participation to the university difficult? And how the use of the virtual worlds can overcome some of the barriers that restrict you from attending the university.
To participate in this experiment, you will have to install specific viewer software on your computer, login and interact in the virtual world with other participants using a virtual character (Avatar). During this study, you will be asked to complete two surveys and participate in a virtual focus group.
I will be happy to answer any questions you have about the study. Thank you for your consideration.
If you would like to participate, please email me directly expressing your interest so I can provide you with more information and materials.
If you are interested to participate, I encourage you to join my forum for discussion http://learninvw.com/forum
With kind regards, Louis Nisiotis
Research Student – Sheffield Hallam University