Abstract—As a sub-part of a larger project investigating the benefits of storytelling in the facilitation of team building in online groups, an inquiry was conducted on the use of storytelling in the 3-D virtual world of Second Life®. The 3-D world presented an intriguing opportunity to investigate the potential of combining the popular group process of storytelling with a 3-D virtual environment conducive of that process. It was hoped that the metaphor of an evening camp fire in the starlight could add new dimensions to a shared storytelling experience online. The 3-D world was found to provide participants with a substitute form of non-verbal communication (body language) both as a part of the embedded AI avatar actions, and those actions that occurred when users interacted with each other and the 3-D environment around them. Participants found they connected strongly on an emotional level with others and they developed a felt sense of place. Useful findings for those looking to online tools for group work opportunities that can provide strong connections and opportunities for interactive group spaces. With online groups being highly focused on their tasks in the initial stages, developing emotional and relational connections can be challenging for group leaders and facilitators. The combination of a 3-D environment and group process as outlined in this study presents one approach to deepening the possibilities of online group work, and generating a natural, fun, and satisfying way for participants to work together online.
Index Terms—3-D virtual worlds, virtual teams, group collaboration, online groups, group work, group facilitation, Second Life.
S. J. Thorpe is the BCIS Programme Leader, Academic Advisor, and Lecturer at the School of Computing and Mathematical Sciences, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, NZ (e-mail: sthorpe@ aut.ac.nz).
Cite: Stephen J. Thorpe, "Sense of Place and Emotional Connections Using Collaborative Storytelling in Second Life," International Journal of Information and Education Technology vol. 1, no. 4, pp. 292-297, 2011.