Blended synchronicity: Uniting on-campus and distributed learners through media-rich real-time collaboration

Barney Dalgarno ª (presenter), Matt Bower, Gregor Kennedy, Mark J.W. Lee ª
ª School of Education, Charles Sturt University, Wagga

Twenty-first century university students find it increasingly difficult to commit to regular face-to face classes (James, Krause, & Jennings, 2010; Gosper, Green, McNeill, Phillips, Preston, & Woo, 2008), yet real-time interaction and collaboration are often essential to achieving successful learning outcomes. This presentation will describe an ALTC Innovation and Development Grant funded project, which will identify, characterise, and evaluate technology-enhanced ways of bringing together on-campus and geographically dispersed students and engaging them in media rich synchronous collaborative learning experiences.

The project is led by Matt Bower of Macquarie University, in partnership with Gregor Kennedy of Melbourne University and Barney Dalgarno and Mark Lee of Charles Sturt University. A base of innovative practices in the use of three such technologies – desktop video-conferencing, web-conferencing, 3D virtual worlds – will be compiled, and in conjunction with a capability analysis of the technologies will lead to the development of a framework for tool selection and use plus a collection of exemplar learning designs. Working with members of a practitioner network which will shortly be established, six case-study implementations will be identified, supported, monitored and evaluated to trial and refine the technology capabilities framework and exemplar designs while simultaneously generating practical guidelines for staff. Outcomes will be disseminated through a handbook, webinar series and nationwide workshops.

This presentation will focus in particular on the beginnings of the capability or affordance analysis of the technologies, which extends earlier work by Dalgarno and Lee (2010) on 3D virtual environments and by Bower and Hedberg (2010) on web conferencing. Classic learning designs which illustrate ways in which the focus technologies can be used in combination with each other to afford collaboration patterns not possible using any one technology will also be described, building on earlier work by Bower, Cram and Groom (2010).


Bower, M., & Hedberg, J. (2010). A quantitative multimodal discourse analysis of teaching and learning in a web-conferencing environment – The efficacy of student-centred learning designs. Computers & Education, 54(2), 462-478.

Bower, M., Cram, A., & Groom, D. (2010). Blended reality: Issues and potentials in combining virtual worlds and face-to-face classes. In Australasian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education (ASCILITE), Sydney, (pp. 129-140).

Dalgarno, B. & Lee, M. J. W. (2010). What are the learning affordances of 3D virtual environments? British Journal of Educational Technology, 41(1), 10-32.

Gosper, M., Green, D., McNeill, M., Phillips, R., Preston, G., & Woo, K. (2008). The impact of web-based lecture technologies on current and future practices in learning and teaching [Final project report]. Sydney: ALTC.

James, R., Krause, K., & Jennings, C. (2010). The first year experience in Australian universities: Findings from 1994 to 2009. Melbourne: Centre for the Study of Higher Education, The University of Melbourne.

Click below for power point presentation:

Blended Synchronicity TERPA symposium


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s