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The environment of an online classroom is shaped by similar contributions. Online instructors build the learning environment by controlling variables such as how materials are presented, the kinds of interaction allowed, and customization of the interface. Classrooms also have persistent physical characteristics like carpet, chairs, paint color, technology, lighting, and smell. There is some certainty that each participant in class experiences the same room — we all know the professor is wearing the same pants she wore last week, the lecture is lucid, someone in the second row is doing the crossword puzzle, the atmosphere is charged with intellectual electricity, and the carpet is ugly. I then conjured all sorts of images of a face to face class in which students randomly evaporate, spontaneously combust, teleport, or some such physical iteration of the downing of the Internet connection ... but I couldn’t come up with an equitable situation that might feasibly exist in day–to–day reality.
The focus of this paper is how the physical environments of each individual become part of each individual’s experience of the shared online environment and part of all participants’ experiences of the shared online environment for learning. 26 Information Processing as Core Activity in Schools .
Often, CSCW design approaches to virtual–physical interaction involve supporting awareness or translucence by making the physical environs of each participant explicitly and literally visible to all participants.
Some systems accomplish this by showing not only the people but also their environs through actual, e.g., photographic, or symbolic, e.g., iconic or verbal, representations.
A thorough review of this general area is beyond the scope of this paper.
The bulk of such literature addresses the effect of technology on a physical workspace rather than vice versa (Zuboff, 1988; Orlikowski, 1992a; Bowker, et al., 1997; Orlikowski, 2000).
When focus is directed to the effect of workspace on technology it is often from the perspective of system design or adoption.