The Changing Face of Universities with the Escalation of Virtual Learning and Engagement
As technology changes at a swift rate, innovations within the realm of learning occur as a parallel front. As such, the bricks and mortar universities find themselves in an unusual situation; one in which there is a changing face of more traditional universities so as to meet the needs of the student customer. The traditional university has seen an escalation of virtual learning environments over the past fifteen year period, through which the burgeoning concerns over learner engagement within dynamic virtual communities have occurred. With the introduction of three-dimensional virtual learning environments, the opportunity for transformational virtual social learning systems to grow has engaged the more innovative and cutting-edge within academia, with an eye towards connections between instructional design, interaction, interfaces, self-regulation, usability, instructional design and social expectations. Online distance education opportunities are shifting towards a more real-world experience within a virtual learning environment and, as such, three-dimensional virtual learning environments have captivated academics with the mesmerizing possibilities.
Keywords: Distance Learning, Web-based Learning, Web-enhanced Learning, Virtual Learning, Engagement, Social Learning Systems, Instructional Design, Interaction, Interface, Self-Regulation, Usability, Social Expectations
Dr. Caroline M. Crawford
Associate Professor, Instructional Technology, University of Houston