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Promoting collaborative learning in virtual worlds: the power of “we”

Yang-Jun Li (School of Management and Economics, Beijing Institute of Technology, Beijing, China)
Christy M.K. Cheung (Department of Finance and Decision Sciences, Hong Kong Baptist University, Kowloon, Hong Kong)
Xiao-Liang Shen (School of Information Management, Wuhan University, Wuhan, China) (National Demonstration Center for Experimental Library and Information Science Education, Wuhan University, Wuhan, China)
Matthew K.O. Lee (Department of Information Systems, City University of Hong Kong, Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong)

Information Technology & People

ISSN: 0959-3845

Article publication date: 30 September 2022

Issue publication date: 8 September 2023




As digital spaces for team collaboration, virtual worlds bring considerable verisimilitude to technology-mediated social interaction and change the process of traditional team learning. The purpose of this study is to understand how to promote collaborative learning in virtual worlds by leveraging the power of we-intention to participate in virtual worlds. The authors further use the valence–instrumentality–self-efficacy–trust model (VIST) model as a means of understanding the formation of we-intention to participate in virtual worlds, during which behavioral desire serves a bridging role.


The authors tested the research model using the data gathered from 298 users of a prominent form of virtual world, i.e. massively multiplayer online role-playing games. The authors used the structural equation modeling approach and the partial least squares technique for data analysis.


Results show that the four factors of the VIST model (i.e. valence on team goals, instrumentality of contribution, self-efficacy in team tasks and trust in team members) all positively influence we-intention to participate in virtual worlds through behavioral desire for team actions. We-intention to participate in virtual worlds further exerts a stronger positive effect on collaborative learning in virtual worlds, compared with I-intention to participate in virtual worlds.


This work advances the information systems literature by introducing a relevant and important concept, i.e. we-intention, to explain collaborative learning in virtual worlds. This study especially compared the effect of we-intention and I-intention on collaborative learning in virtual worlds. The results of this work also provide practitioners with insights into the role of we-intention in promoting collective actions in virtual worlds.



The authors gratefully appreciate the comments and suggestions of the senior editor, Prof. Xusen Cheng, and the anonymous reviewers of this paper throughout this paper's review process. Their excellent input has significantly improved the quality of the work.

Funding: This work was partially supported by the grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Project No. 72274144, 71832010) and the Humanities and Social Sciences Foundation of the Ministry of Education, China (Project No. 22YJA870013).


Li, Y.-J., Cheung, C.M.K., Shen, X.-L. and Lee, M.K.O. (2023), "Promoting collaborative learning in virtual worlds: the power of “we”", Information Technology & People, Vol. 36 No. 6, pp. 2563-2586.



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