Collaboration and teamwork: immersion and presence in an online learning environment

BEER, Martin, SLACK, Frances and ARMITT, G. (2005). Collaboration and teamwork: immersion and presence in an online learning environment. Information systems frontiers, 7 (1), 27-37.


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In the world of OTIS, an online Internet School for occupational therapists, students from four European countries were encouraged to work collaboratively through problem-based learning by interacting with each other in a virtual semi-immersive environment. This paper describes, often in their own words, the experience of European occupational therapy students working together across national and cultural boundaries. Collaboration and teamwork were facilitated exclusively through an online environment, since the students never met each other physically during the OTIS pilot course. The aim of the paper is to explore the observations that here was little interaction between students from different tutorial groups and virtual teamwork developed in each of the cross-cultural tutorial groups. Synchronous data from the students was captured during tutorial sessions and peer-booked meetings and analysed using the qualitative constructs of ‘immersion’, ‘presence’ and ‘reflection in learning’. The findings indicate that ‘immersion’ was experienced only to a certain extent. However, both ‘presence’ and shared presence were found by the students, within their tutorial groups, to help collaboration and teamwork. Other evidence suggests that communities of interest were established. Further study is proposed to support group work in an online learning environment. It is possible to conclude that collaborative systems can be designed, which encourage students to build trust and teamwork in a cross cultural online learning environment.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © Springer Original publication is available at
Uncontrolled Keywords: Problem-based learning, Collaborative learning, Semi-immersive environment, Presence, Synchronous communication, Occupational therapy
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Cultural Communication and Computing Research Institute > Communication and Computing Research Centre
Departments - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Faculty of Science, Technology and Arts > Department of Computing
Identification Number:
Page Range: 27-37
Depositing User: Ann Betterton
Date Deposited: 24 Apr 2007
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2021 14:07

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