Gather.town: An opportunity for self-paced learning in a synchronous, distance-learning environment

Colin Derek McClure, Paul N Williams

Abstract


The COVID-19 pandemic has forced Higher Education to adopt distance-learning approaches in traditionally face-to-face and practical-based fields such as the Health and Life sciences. Such an abrupt change to distance-learning contexts brings a variety of challenges to student learning communities, and ensuring key skills are effectively transferred. Chief among these is the limited opportunity students have to discuss their individual needs with their educators and peers in a synchronous manner. Proximity-based video-conferencing platforms such as gather.town can offer a unique opportunity for learners to interact with educators as well as pre-developed materials in a self-paced manner to tailor the teaching experience, and develop these relationships in a distance-learning context. In this case study the concepts of statistical analysis and the use of the data analysis software R is introduced to 38 University students using the online platform gather.town. With the use of private spaces, pre-recorded videos, and demonstrators, students are trained in both the concepts and practical skills to undertake data analysis in a self-paced manner. Both students and demonstrators provide their opinions on the effectiveness of the platform, and identify its benefits, preferring it to alternative online systems such as MS Teams for their educational sessions.


Keywords


Self-paced learning; distance-learning; eLearning; COVID-19; video-conferencing

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References


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.21100/compass.v14i2.1232

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