An experiment on anonymity and multi-user virtual environments: Manipulating identity to increase learning

Richard N. Landers, Rachel C. Callan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

Little prior research has empirically examined anonymity in learning. In this study, we manipulatedlearner identity by experimentally assigning learners to participate in online discussion either anonymouslyor using their actual name, crossed with learning medium (OpenSim/Second Life vs. real-timechat), with the goal of determining if anonymous discussion in multi-user virtual environments (MUVE)provides unique value to learning (a 2x2 between-subjects design). Results from a quantitative hierarchicalmultiple regression analysis revealed both main effects: participants who were anonymous scored lower(d = -0.46) and participants discussing in a MUVE scored lower (d = -0.47) on the learning measurewithout interactive effect, suggesting that anonymizing participants during content-related discussionmay reduce learning under certain circumstances. We suggest instructors encourage learners to representthemselves authentically in any VEs to maximize learning and also discourage instructors fromadopting MUVEs if their only reason to do so is to host synchronous discussion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationTransforming Gaming and Computer Simulation Technologies across Industries
PublisherIGI Global
Pages80-93
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781522518181
ISBN (Print)1522518177, 9781522518174
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 23 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 by IGI Global. All rights reserved.

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