Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Reading # 2 - Virtual Reality & Flaming

The second reading was about virtual reality, as well as e-mail messages and flaming. The first two chapters focused on virtual reality and how it can enhance a student's classroom experience. Through virtual reality students can engage in various scenarios that mimic real life experiences. In this aspect, the concept of learning through virtual reality seems possible. The classroom can provide students an active way of learning the material taught. The same goes for online education because online classes can spark discussions among students who may be hesitant to participate in class. Additionally, online classes cross barriers of time and geography allowing students from all across the world to communicate and learn from each other. However, for some subject, namely the sciences, students need a practical application of what they learned in the classroom, and thus online education would not work very well for them. Even though learning through virtual reality has its benefits, what happens when people cannot distinguish between the virtual and the actual? If a student was doing mock interviews in a virtual reality setting, one could assume he or she would be well prepared for the real interview. But what if the student was more relaxed in the virtual environment, knowing that it is not real. While teaching through virtual reality may have its benefits, it also has its pitfalls.

In the reading, flaming has several definitions. While all of them are in one way or another different from each other, they are also quite similar. Essentially, flaming involves some sort of emotional outburst, and is more often than not, a negative one. A few explanations for flaming were provided, but I think all of them are equally important. The internet allows anonymity which results in a reduced self awareness and thus users believe it is okay to behave as they please because the norms of social settings do not apply online. Also, because online communication does not involve a physical presence it is impersonal and people do not have a sense of social presence. Even though flaming seems to be a result of the lack of social presence, one would think people would be a little careful about what they say online because they cannot properly interpret what others are saying due to a lack of physical presence. But then again, that might be the same reason to misinterpret a message and start flaming.

1 comment:

  1. there certainly seems to be many factors involved, including a lack of nonverbal cues and context, and a freedom from direct consequences for our actions. Flame wars were a well know by product of online communication from early on, and remain a part of the electronic landscape today.