The Increasing Importance of Virtual Learning Environments

From the ebook Learning Spaces, this excerpt is from Chapter 6: The Psychology of Learning Environments by Ken A. Graetz, Director of e-learning at Winona State University.

“Today’s students spend an increasing amount of their time peering at computer screens. These virtual environments have physical characteristics that are just as real as those of a dormitory room or a brick-and-mortar classroom, and students can become just as attached to them. On one end of the continuum are virtual worlds that emulate a natural, multidimensional environment. On the other end of the spectrum are the online work spaces that students use every day, such as course management systems and campus portals. Somewhere in between are applications such as Facebook and MySpace, or persistent, customizable, social spaces that lack the immersive qualities of virtual worlds but are more open, recreational, and social than campus work spaces.”

“What impact does this have on classroom design? First, campuses can expect the boundaries between virtual and brick-and-mortar learning environments to continue to blur. Students and instructors will need access to their virtual learning environments while seated in their brick-and-mortar classrooms. Second, as campuses accept the notion that virtual spaces are actually classrooms, they can begin to apply the same care and consideration to decisions about course management systems and campus portals as they do to decisions about new construction and renovation.”