Chapter

Studying Invisibly: Media Naturalness and Learning

DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4419-6139-6_9

ABSTRACT This study examines differences between two learning environments
: audio-written conferencing
and traditional face-to-face instruction
. We investigated whether medium richness
[media richness theory
; Daft and Lengel (Research in organizational behavior. JAI, Greenwich, 1984)], medium naturalness
[media naturalness theory
; Kock (IEEE Trans Prof Commun 48(2):117–130, 2005)], and invisibility
influence students’ achievement, satisfaction
, and behavior. In two research settings, a field study and a laboratory experiment, students were taught face-to-face and/or
via an audio-written conferencing system; subject matter and teacher were constant. We found similar achievement in the two
environments. Significant differences, in favor of face-to-face communication, were found regarding learner satisfaction.
In addition, invisibility increased certain kinds of students’ behavior: participation, risk taking, immediacy feeling, and
flaming. These findings were explained in terms of differences in media naturalness and as an effect of invisibility.

KeywordsMedia naturalness-Media richness-
Online disinhibition effect

-Invisibility-
Visual anonymity

-
Online learning

-Audio-written synchronous conferencing

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