Title

Mixed methods for mixed reality: Overcoming methodologicalchallenges to understand user activity in a massive multi-user virtual environment

Document Type

Presentation

Journal/Book Title/Conference

Annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association

Publication Date

4-1-2007

Abstract

This paper evaluates strengths and limitations of a mixed methods approach to analyzing the activities of 595 participants in a massive, multi-user online learning environment. Keystroke-level actions and survey data were recorded over a four-month period of participants activities in Whyville.net, an informal science website. A subset of 88 users was also observed offline while using Whyville with videotape, observer field notes, and interviews. Implications for the use of mixed methods in online environments are discussed with regard to three challenges resolved during the study: (1) appropriate reduction of the vast quantity of data, (2) integrated analysis of online and offline events, and (3) interactions between qualitative and quantitative data.

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