Virtual Technology to Support Student Engagement and Collaboration in Online Engineering Courses

Robert Avanzato


This study evaluated the use of Terf® virtual world technology to support student communication, collaboration, and engagement in an online undergraduate, sophomore-level computer engineering course in digital design and a computer science course. Virtual world technology provides a persistent 3D immersive environment in which students and faculty log into the platform with personalized avatars and enter customized virtual workspaces that support avatar navigation, text chat, voice communication, shared resources, and a webcam. Most importantly, the Terf® product allows student teams to work collaboratively on shared documents and images, facilitating team projects and improving student interaction and communication. The virtual collaboration tool also supported interaction with 3D models, virtual office hours, virtual lectures, and a team final project virtual poster session. Overall, the feedback from the students was positive and the students judged the tool as beneficial to improving student interaction, engagement and collaboration in the online courses.

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The ASEE Computers in Education (CoED) Journal
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ISSN: 1069-3769 (Print)
ISSN: 2577-221X (Online)