Friday, September 18, 2015

What are the needs of learners in a Blended Learning course?

Blended Learning is flexible, accessible and well-placed to meet the diverse needs of various learners in different fields of education (VET and Higher Education as well as in Adult Education). There exist several documents[1] dealing with the topic of learners needs focusing on distance education dated to the first decade of the 21st century. Here basic considerations are done covering aspects like motivation or experience, necessary feedback or focus on practical work.
Blended Learning course: OnSite Teaching
(from: Quality in Blended Learning Course, (c) Peter Mazohl)
After these publications, there exist a kind of “radio silence”. You will find publications about Distance learning courses and others dealing with Blended Learning, but in almost none the focus is set to the learner and the learners’ needs. What is also missing is the mentioning of the necessary pedagogy in Distance Learning as well as in Blended Learning. That goes hand in hand with the lack of qualified quality frameworks offering more than the puristical ISO/IEC 19796 standard.
The Multilateral Grundtvig Project about “Quality in Blended Learning” developed a list of typical needs of learners in Blended Learning courses, out from several surveys combined with the experience of international experts and the feedback from the biggest University based Blended Learning project “AKMAT” (University of Technology Vienna).
Here is a short list in a quickly done overview mentioning the most important learners’ needs. More information and a detailed report about the project is available at the webpage of the consortium.
Blended Learner isolated during the Distance Learning
Learners want or need:
  • Interest in topic (normally learners are interested in the course when they enrol
  • Basic IT skill
  • Requirements should be announced befor
  • Enough time to be present at the classroom and to do the assignments in the distance learning phas
  • Learners don’t want to feel lonely or left alone (as they are physically far from the place where the training is given and often are not well connected to their learning mates or peers
  • High level of motivation to achieve training objective
  • Learners must be very proactive (and have to be aware of it – often they have to learn this before participating at a Blended Learning course)
  • The student must be continually informed on every detail, in order to do proper planning and be well adjusted to the course schedule
  • Well prepared and appropriate information during the course
    The student must comply with the deadlines for the delivery of work
    o   thee must comply with activities in the platform
    o   to have good results and not to accumulate work, which might cause anxiety and stress.
  • There should be monitoring of the questions raised and the work developed by the students.
  • Quickly done feedback of assignments
  • On-line support is essential, and should be constant and permanent.
  • The quality of the manuals, the bibliography and the proper maintenance of the learning platform are of utmost importance

This is not a complete list. Otherwise, it offers an impact. Please comment this article and feel free to give us a feedback about your experience and your opinion to the learners’ needs in Blended Learning!

[1] Leslie A. Dare (ED): Assessing the needs of distance learners: A student affairs perspective ( or Linda Stilborne and Lindy Williams: Meeting the Needs of Adult Learners in Developing Courses for the Internet (

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Platform for Distance Learning - what do students think about features?

Distance Learning in a Blended Learning course
The environment for the distance learning in the Blended Learning process needs special quality criteria that must be fulfilled by the platform to satisfy best the customers’ needs. Standard features like class management, communication and interaction, organisation and access to resources as well as practice and assessment should be standard. To identify the learners' needs the learners should be asked about the concrete use of these features and additional options
Further studies or projects should care for answers to the following questions:
How important is …
  • is a portfolio system for you 
  • is synchronous communication (in a group) for you
    o With your teacher/trainer
    o With other learners of your group 
  • is the communication with other learners for you 
  • are Web 2.0 features (for example interactivity) for you 
  • is a simple navigation (inside the eLearning Platform) for you 
  • Is the use and the presentation of multimedia content in the course for you 
  • are joint-used tools like mind maps, glossaries or wikis (to create content together) for you 
  • are games or other entertainments (for example crosswords) as a learning tool for you 
  • Is for you to use the eLearning platform with your tablet for learning 

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Anu Hyrkkänen: PE teacher participating Blended Learning course

I teach Physical Education in Viikki Teacher Training school. Most of my pupils are 13-16 years old boys and girls.  
In this Blended learning course I participated to the Google Apps For Education -group. First face-to-face -meeting we had in January 2015. I had used before a bit Edmodo platform but after joining this GAFE-group I got good information about GAFE and which tools could be useful for me.
We made in first meeting plans for our own projects what are we going to do during the spring time. Between face-to-face -meetings we had one online meeting about copyrights. It was very interesting lesson. When we were working with our own projects during the spring our tutor answered our questions and that was a great help.
In my project I used Edmodo and GAFE. We had a group in Edmodo and we started with a planning lesson in classroom. I used with pupils Edmodo’s poll-tool. During first lesson we made together with pupils our course program using Google sheets. This tool worked very well. If I made some changes in program pupils could see them right away.
I had planned to use Edmodo as a information channel but that didn’t worked out with this group. That’s a thing what I have to do better next year when I start lessons with new groups. Although this didn’t work out so well, I will continue using Edmodo in the future.
In subject like PE our main goal is of course to get pupils out of classroom and do some exercise. That’s why GAFE and Edmodo are rather for me tools to plan and organize my lessons and keep in touch with pupils. Edmodo could be useful information channel between teacher and pupils, also parents can have their own code and they can join the group.
When participating this course I think I succeed in finding new tools to my work. Because of our patient and encouraging tutors I realised which tools and platforms are most useful in my subject at this time. In this project I used from Google Apps For Education: Docs, Sheets, Forms and Slides. I’ve got also useful information and good tips of these applications for my other teaching subject Health Education.
Anu Hyrkkänen
Teacher PE and Health Education
Viikki Teacher Training School

Monday, June 22, 2015

Maarit Kostamo: Quality in blended learning – Self-reflection blog post about the use of Edmodo in Pilot Course

The need to digitise myself and to develop my ICT skills were the first and foremost reasons for participating in this project and for choosing the Edmodo language group as my team. I had only given a couple of electronic exams in the past on Moodle but not really used Moodle or any other electronic learning (eLearning from now on) platform for my courses so I wanted to gain some information on what quality blended learning, including the effective use of online platforms, could be like. I therefore chose the Edmodo language group, as it felt like the most pertinent group for my needs and also, because I am a foreign language teacher myself.

I had two language groups at my school to choose from for the purposes of this project. One was a French group doing their second course on B3 (basic level)-French and the other was also a French group doing their fourth course on B3 (basic level)-French. Both groups had a fairly low number of participants as French is not a hugely popular subject at the moment. However, I thought that the participants on their very first French course would have a lot on their plates to begin with, so the other French group seemed more promising for the trial on eLearning materials.

Our course in our fourth study period ran from 2nd March until 7th April, which translates into 5,5 weeks or 11 lessons. 6 of these lessons were to be given face to face and 5 would be distance learning lessons. Normally the students on such a course would receive 6 face-to-face lessons and guided distance learning exercises to complete on their own during the distance learning lessons times at home and these exercises would then be checked by the students themselves from the hand-outs provided by the teacher. However, for the purposes of this project, I thought I'd try giving the distance learning lessons myself via Skype, Adobe Connect Pro (ACP) and Edmodo rather than having my students do guided exercises and studying on their own. Also, I chose to use Edmodo as an eLearning platform for the course where students would post their essays, do their word tests and final test and where they would ultimately give their feedback.

As an eLearning platform, Edmodo, like many other platforms, allows its users to share and gather information in one place, give tests and quizzes in one place and also, to use this platform as a communication tool. I will now present three ways in which I used Edmodo. First, I started my use of Edmodo by sharing some online material such as Quizlet quizzes, TV5 Monde (French language TV channel) links to videos and online dictionaries to my students. I do not know how many of them made use of these materials.

Second, I then decided to give them their first wordtest online. This proved to be problematic, as the use of special French characters such as û, ç cedille and é and è accents was difficult for the students. Eventually, however, they learned to produce all four characters without problems. The second problem was to do with the way Edmodo lets its teacher users correct fill in the blank - exercises. It only allows the teacher to give one correct answer, which is rather restrictive in the case of languages, so I was having to do second marking all the time with these types of exercises, which I eventually decided to abandon and only use the short answer exercises.

The third way that I decided to use Edmodo was to post my power point presentations into the folders of the course so that my students could access them during our online lessons. This was a pre-emptive move, as I had both anticipated problems with the use ACP and had thought it beneficial for the students to share my power point presentations with them via Edmodo anyway. This turn out to be a smart move as ACP stopped working for some of students during the second session of our online lessons.

To summarise my points so far, I would claim that Edmodo is very useful as a platform for sharing information such as weblinks, for giving online exams and for sharing learning materials in general via the folders. 

The high point of the course for me was definitely the fact that I got to try my hand at giving online lectures. I had set up an ACP room for this and had decided that during the online lectures we would concentrate on learning grammar and doing oral exercises. These are in line with the learning objectives stipulated by the national core curriculum for adults. As ACP didn't work during our second online lecture during which we also used Skype, I asked my students to go on Edmodo and look at the slides from there. As far as plan B's go, this worked well.

What I learned from giving online lectures is that 1) it requires a lot of effort from the teacher to give online lectures, as everything has to be carefully planned in advance. 2) it is very important to engage the students in the online lecture, for example by calling them by name so that they feel like they are part of the process. 3) The time of the day needs to be considered and as my lectures took part between 7pm and 9 pm in the evenings, it also required me to be full of energy so that my lectures would seem interesting, interactive and informative (my three 'I's of good teaching). Online lecturing does in no way delete the need for face-to-face teaching but as far as online learning goes, this can be an alternative, albeit a demanding one, to make students study grammar online.  

The role of the student participation on free conversation on this platform was limited. As this was my first time using Edmodo, I decided that my students would only have to follow guidelines, i.e. do the exercises that I set for them to do online. They succeeded well in this so their role can now be expanded to cover more versatile ground. That is why in my current, teaching period 5 English course n:o 7, my students are doing a Food and Agriculture project online on Edmodo, where they work as learning pairs. The number of students (5) on the course is so low that forming learning teams is impossible. What my students have to do is they will read English articles online, produce English to Finnish glossaries, exercises, answer keys, a presentation and give feedback to each other during and after the project and I will give my feedback about the project after the project has been completed.  

As can be seen from the description above, I intend to use Edmodo on my future language courses, including the summer upper secondary school courses this June 2015.
Finally, how did Edmodo improve the quality of my teaching? At the beginning of the project, my purpose was to increase my ICT skills, which I can safely say have improved by leaps and bounds. I am now much more comfortable with and confident about using a variety of online platforms, applications and programs for the benefit of my students. The use of Edmodo has allowed me to digitise my exams, which is one of the key requirements for the future of language teaching at upper secondary school level with regard to the fast approaching electronic matriculation examination. I think Edmodo has made my teaching more engaging, even face-to-face teaching as students are now more familiar with each other and it has forced me to be resourceful when faced with what felt like insurmountable problems. Finally, Edmodo has pushed me, if not to my limits, then at least towards becoming a better teacher.

Maarit Kostamo, Kouvolan iltalukio (Kouvola upper secondary evening school for adults), Finland

Monday, June 8, 2015

Terhi Hinkkanen: Blended learning experiment

My teaching subject is home economics and the most important way of learning is by doing and working. That’s the way we bring theory into life.
Blended learning however brings extra into teaching and makes it more interesting.
In home ec we’ve got 16 pupils who are divided into 4 small groups. In the first session of this blended learning I got interested in Nanda wan Deer Stapp’s... (the dutch lady) presentation about having a group assignment. We were already using edmodo for homework but now I got the idea of a group test. Actually one pupil had asked for it and now I had the courage to try it.
I did this experiment with our IT-oriented class 7b. Pupils got the opportunity to create small groups as they wished. I gave out four different sets of test questions in edmodo for each member of each group. When one had done their own assignment they could help and complete others’ answers. It was great to see how helpful the kids were in their small groups. Everybody was willing to help and hopefully they learned a lot more than by doing by themselves.
That was my teaching experiment in blended learning. It didn’t work out perfectly so I’m willing to try it again. Problems were eg some kids didn’t have their computers with them or the battery was dead and so on. Also it was a bit difficult to have test answers in different places. Some replied in edmodo and some sent a Word document. On all of these minor things I want to concentrate and do better next time.
I got interested in GAFE because it sounded great to have the files in order and readable everywhere. Being able to edit files without searching the latest one from a memory stick felt like a good idea.
Another thing I wanted to try were electric notebooks. Unfortunately it took too long for me to get started. After the teacher students came to school I wasn’t able to start using them as much as I would’ve wanted. Next semester I have to get my act together already in August.
The group for this experiment I chose our IT class since they had the equipment from school. Part of the teaching was online for example the home assignment.
My teacher student Sanni was willing to try edmodo as a part of her teaching for the first time. She did a great job and used edmodo and GAFE for pupil’s study diary and assignments during the lessons. There were some problems in returning the assignments. At this point the electric notebook would’ve worked better.

As a conclusion blended learning has given me a lot and I’m looking forward to learning more next semester.

Annmarie Tavaila: Using blended Learning Tools in Physical Education

The only school subject that can`t benefit from blended learning is physical education.

So we were told, but disagreed and decided to challenge ourselves. During a few months of different experiments with different blended learning tools we learned a lot from our pilot course tutors and were encouraged to give it a further try. The new curriculum for basic education in Finland very strongly supports our efforts to look for different ways for students to evaluate their own physical condition and motivate them to a healthy lifestyle.

The course needs an easy platform and we chose Edmodo. Also GAFE (Google Applications for Education)  gave us some good tools. We also needed some precise tools for sports and chose the Polar GoFit system ( With this system the students can view, analyze and evaluate their individual physical activity. Also,  a tool called SportsTracker can be used for the same purpose.  Students made a self-evaluation of the physical education course using Google forms.  By the end of this semester we feel like From small acorns grow big power.

Wishing everyone a healthy and refreshing summer

Annmarie TavailaP.E. teacherViikki Tecaher Training School, Helsinki

Manna Parviainen: Blended Learning in language teaching

What do you get when you mix a full teaching schedule, a new digital learning platform, a course you’ve only taught once before and a Quality in Blended learning (which you really know quite little about) course? An experiment that taught me a lot!

I’ve been blessed with a great collection of colleagues; you know the type who constantly try new things and share their experiences with others. That kind of atmosphere pushes us all to do something different, all in the name of finding better ways to get our message across to the students. But we also want to find new tools that might make teaching more efficient for us as well. We had heard rumors about Edmodo but none of us had really tried it, so when I found the post for the Quality in Blended Learning course, I jumped at the chance.

I chose my Business English course for the simple reason that the national curriculum gives no restraints to the course. In fact, as far as I know, such a course is not offered in other Upper Secondary School in Finland. So it was easy to mold the existing plans into a teaching experiment for the QiBL course. Also, the students who choose this particular course are 2nd graders and have a better skillset to dealing with a new digital learning platform. We used Edmodo for the whole duration of the course (six weeks).

Most of the course took place in the classroom but some assignments the students were supposed to prepare at home. I used Edmodo in different ways. For example, the students had a pre-course assignment about their experiences in SLUSH, which I did as a quiz. I also gave the students a couple of assignments which they then returned in Edmodo.

One function, which I definitely want to use more efficiently in the future, is dividing students into small groups. During my experiment, the students wrote a small learning diary about what they learned during the course. But I see it as a valuable tool for peer learning and peer evaluation and that is what I want to use it for with future groups.

At times it was difficult to motivate students to use Edmodo. This may have something to do with me using Wilma as a communicative tool about contents of individual lessons. This year we have also tried out several different digital tools with our students and some of them were simply too tired to figure out yet another platform. However, when I did get my whole group to join in on the activities, they did admit that Edmodo was quite easy to use.

All in all, I find that Edmodo is definitely a tool worth looking into some more. It served as an easy way to share material and links to the students. Furthermore, being able to gather different types of assignments and their grading into one single platform offers both variety and constant feedback to the students and a valuable tool for the teacher. Edmodo may well be part of the solution to the changing ways of education.

Manna ParvinenEnglish teacherLauttasaaren yhteiskoulu /Lauttasaari Secondary and Upper Secondary school

Taina Arkimo: My Edmodo-experiences during Pilot-course

I am a French teacher in Viikki teacher training school. Edmodo is my first experience of a digital platform. I wanted to take part in this project, because the digital baccalaureate is approaching in Finland and I wanted to find a new tool to work with my students and get them accustomed to this kind of environment. I also liked the way that this project was built: a couple of days of learning together at the beginning and the rest of the semester working and trying different tools with the help of the tutors that also kept pushing and encouraging.
The group I chose (1st grade of upper secondary school) belongs to the first ‘generation’ that will perform their French baccalaureate in a digital form. I also have the pleasure of keeping the same group for three years. I found Edmodo a practical way of sharing information, documents and links. We don’t really have good school books for the long program in French, so a lot of the material comes from the teacher any way.
I used quite a lot of the assignment tool. Both my students and I found it a practical way of handing out writings. If there are not that many mistakes (grammar, spelling) it’s easy to give comments and grade, but in French there is usually a lot to correct, so I still found it easier to print the documents and make the corrections by hand. That is something I have to think of in the future. The digital way of working shouldn’t be more difficult or time consuming than the traditional one.

I created two types of small groups
-        the students worked in groups of 3-4 and made a presentation together (for the whole school), every group working on a small project that we put together in a common bigger project using Google slides. The project succeeded very well.
-        I also created a small group for each student so that they could use it as a digital portfolio and store their writings and all they find interesting in our French courses during three years that we work together
I am not assured that the Quiz tool it is very practical for foreign languages. Multiple choice or true/false are not the best ways of testing a foreign language and in productive exercises there are sometimes many correct ways to say things and the smallest spelling mistakes count (eg. accents in French). I still intend to continue and try different things with this tool, because it is practical otherwise.

It was mostly the teacher (either my teacher trainees or I) who uploaded documents and links on the platform but I tried to activate the students, too. Together we created mind maps on different themes (education, working life). There again we used a Google document. The idea was better than the outcome, because all did not actively take part in the project and they also found it difficult to study the vocabulary with the help of this mind map. They would have preferred the traditional list of words with a translation. However, I encouraged the students to link Quizzlets they’ve made for their fellow students to help them study the vocabulary. That was very useful, worked well and the Quzzlet-maker was also awarded a badge. This type of activity always has a positive effect on their grade, too. So, everybody gained something.

As I already told, I use a lot of my own material in my teaching, so I found library and folders very useful and it was a nice surprise to discover that the folders I made for one group could be used for all the Edmodo groups. Now I have a lot of material stored but I’ll still have to figure out how to organize and name all the folders.
I included my teacher trainees in this project, too. They had their own Edmodo group mostly for sharing information and discussing, but I also made them co-teachers of the groups they taught, so they could make their own trials and discover better the advantages of this kind of an environment. They appreciated this possibility.

I intended to work only with one group, but at the end of the semester I had four more groups and will definitely continue with Edmodo.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Have you always been teaching Blended Learning?

Pedro-Luis Garrido-Cano
A long time ago. When I started working in engineering, someone showed me a diagram of what would happen to me in my work life. The image of that graph is stuck in my mind. Regardless of the work exercised (quality control, management, education), it has never ceased to be met.
This is the graph:

To understand this process we must start at the bottom and "climb" for the "Y" axis. In the first stage, you will be a "Rookie engineer". Here, you will always be working and you will have no "Business meetings" or "Business meals".
According to your climb in age and experience, you will cross over the border "Junior Engineer". We will find in the area between "Junior Engineer" and "Senior Engineer". At this stage, you will begin to have "Business meetings" and "Business meals". Thus, as you are ascending, your "Effective work" will diminish as the other tasks will occupy its place.
Finally, you shall cross over the border "Senior engineer" and you will become "Experienced engineer". In this area you have many commitments and "Effective work" will be drastically reduced by the "Business meetings" and "Business meals". Managers can analyze their work experience and will feel reflected in this graph.

And how can we move this work behavior graph to the concept of mixed education? The answer is found by changing the terms inside the graph, with those in the following:

I will change the "Y" axis, where it was before the rise in our profession, now is our progression from birth to working life. The area "Effective work" is replaced by our presential learning ("FACE to FACE" - F2F), "Business meetings" is changed by the "Labour Time" and "Business meals" for "eLearning".
It is clear that from our "Birth" to "Kindergarten" is where we devote more time to "F2F". Our "Labour Time" is limited to what adults teach, teaching us the basics of life and later the housework (pick up our toys, clothing, lay the table, etc.) and above all play. For "eLearning" will be limited to watching TV, cinema and (nowadays) we will have our "first computer" or some Video Console. And it is very likely "to borrow" parent mobiles!
If we analyze this behavior in children, we will soon realize that here we have the three concepts that form the Blended Learning ("Labour Time", "F2F" "eLearning"). Therefore, the answer to: Have you always been teaching Blended Learning? should be "Yes". Although we must also note that until recently we had not noticed or had not been given sufficient attention to it. But before taking any conclusions, consider what would happen during our school and working life.
In the next step, going from the "Kindergarten" to "Upper education" through the "School", we find an increasingly sharp decline in teaching "F2F". This kind of teaching is being replaced by (in the case of "Labour Time") time for homework, cultural visits, individual and group work, work placements, research, etc. And the "eLearning", initially, with seeking information through books, manuals, Internet and gradually in new platforms.
The challenge that we face is the standardization of Blended Learning. Because although, I drew an isosceles triangle, the reality is that the triangle type will be influenced by our "areas of interest".
This is what the need for standardization arise. Standardization that will help us to obtain the best results in teaching. And, it is with this research project that some answers will be given to questions like: how long to spend on each task?, what are the most desirable qualities of an eLearning platform?, how a student is motivated?, What work has to be done?, etc. Surely, this will raise more questions than answers or results. Otherwise, we will not have achieved our objectives: lay the foundations of a good standardization, if these questions are not included in the standardization process. And we will (probably) get a right triangle (which does not include any kind of learning).

If this project succeeds, will be the "seed" of a good standardization. In this way, we can go one step further: using this methodology as framework in the work market. Although this is beyond our study we can make a small reflection of the work market. In this time of crisis, we are seeing a lack of job opportunities for "adult" people. Among the major problems we encountered is the lack of flexibility in the retraining of workers and therefore people is unable to learn new technologies. Leading to a lower chance for changing jobs or way of working.

In my opinion, BLearning is a good tool to keep workers in the recycling activity. Because, as their time for "F2F" is drastically reduced, they cannot leave their job. If we can supply them with Elearning plus "F2F", we reached the top of our graph. And so, combine "Labour Time" and "Education" so that the "recycling" of workers can be an effective task.

And now a bit of advertising, if you want to participate in this exciting challenge. Meet us in Malaga (Spain) on 27, 28 and August 29, 2015 (Quality System for BLearning Education Conference, Málaga Conference web Page )
Project web page:

Register at the conference: Registration page

Friday, April 17, 2015

Blended Learning and Virtual Worlds

Michail Filioglou, EDRASE
Blended learning comprises by two distinct phases, the synchronous  and the asynchronous one.  A lot of attention has been recently given to the asynchronous part, with researchers trying to apply contemporary educational methods in distance learning. But there is a lack of research on the synchronous part.

When we are referring to the “synchronous part”, we are usually talking about the face-to-face meetings that the trainer has along with the trainees. This can happen at the beginning, during and/or at the end of the training. Another option is to use “Virtual Worlds”.
In the web-site of the “Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education”, a global grass-roots community event focusing on education in immersive virtual environments ( is written that: “A virtual world is an online community that takes the form of a unique environment through which users can interact with one another and use and create ideas irrespective of time and space. Virtual worlds can be either 2D or 3D. They may be co-located or distributed. The core aspect that defines a virtual space is that a virtual environment provides a uniquely shared space for emerging relationships and serves as a foundation for the development of knowledge creation and sharing”
They also give some examples of virtual Worlds, which include :

  •  Second Life, 
  • OpenSim, 
  • Unity,   
  • Pinestest, 
  • World of Warcraft, and   
  • Eve Online.

The above mentioned virtual environments are segregated from WebEx, Sococo, VenueGen, and other platforms which are focused on more utilitarian purposes to a closed audience.
This is because virtual worlds are characterized by an open social presence, where the direction of the platform’s evolution is manifested in the community.
Out of the 28 Virtual Worlds Working Group (VWWG)  Australian institutions, 25 are using Second Life, 14 Open Sim and 7 are using other platforms, such as Vastpark, iSee, Unity3D, Quest Atlantis and three customised VWs for their own needs (Gregory et al. 2011). There is a variety of disciplines using VWs, with the most dominant in Education (22), Health (15), Business (12), Science (7) and a range of other disciplines (25), including history, art, sociology, law, engineering, architecture, visual and performing arts, tourism, hospitality, construction, languages, pharmacy, social and behavioural studies. There are approximately 200 students per HIE studying through a Virtual World.

In a recent research by Morrison et al.(2012)  it is referred that the influence of avatars on user trust in computer mediated communication environments is an issue which needs further research. 

The authors claim that this gap in literature should be addressed because many e-learning environments utilize computer mediated communication tools as first-order mechanisms to support distance learning student-teacher interaction. In their study they investigated whether or not there exists some effect from the uses of avatars on individual perceptions in computer mediated communications. Their results suggest that the use of avatars associated with trustworthiness affects trust development and  the perception of trustworthiness.
Another big study presented in Australia ( Gregory et al., 2011)
Showed that the use of virtual worlds in Australia’s Universities has become widespread. It is reported that the key things that they are using VWs for , are:
Research; providing students with virtual experiences unavailable to them; meetings; tutorials; social media; inter-professional education; ethical decision-making; experiential learning, collaboration; role-play; simulation; guest lectures' web-quests; excursions; tours; scenario based training; building; scripting; authentic assessment; programming behaviour of avatars and objects: interfacing VWs with motion capture suits and cybergloves; design and implement distributed spoils games.
Some challenges that remained unresolved are:

  • Technical and financial support;
  •  bandwidth;
  •   acceptance;
  •  accessibility;
  • lack of vision;
  • preparation of materials;
  • many people on the one sim at the one time:
  • timetabling;
  • learning curve

·         Gregory, B., Gregory, S., Wood, D., Masters, Y., Hillier, M., Stokes-Thompson, F., Bogdanovych, A., Butler, D., Hay, L., Jegathesan, J.J., Flintoff, K., Schutt, S., Linegar, D., Alderton, R., Cram, A., Stupans, I., McKeown Orwin, L., Meredith, G., McCormick, D., Collins, F., Grenfell, J., Zagami, J., Ellis, A., Jacka, L., Campbell, J., Larson, I., Fluck, A., Thomas, A., Farley, H., Muldoon, N., Abbas, A., Sinnappan, S., Neville, K., Burnett, I., Aitken, A., Simoff , S., Scutter, S., Wang, X., Souter, K., Ellis, D., Salomon, M.,Wadley, G., Jacobson, M., Newstead, A., Hayes, G., Grant, S. & Yusupova, A. (2011). How are Australian higher education institutions contributing to change through innovative teaching and learning in virtual worlds? In G. Williams, P. Statham, N. Brown, & B. Cleland (Eds.), Changing Demands, Changing Directions. Proceedings ascilite Hobart 2011. (pp. 475-490).
·         Morrison, Rodger; Cegielski, Casey; Rainer, R. Kelly (2012) Journal of Computer Information Systems;Fall2012, Vol. 53 Issue 1, p 80