Design of learning spaces in 3D virtual environments
See the final report
This project will evaluate a range of 3-D virtual learning spaces, immersive and non-immersive, realistic and non-realistic, with students, in order to propose models for a variety of pedagogical requirements.
The project will:
- investigate the existing models of learning spaces in a 3-D virtual world (Second Life) and the rationale for their designs
- compare students' and educators' experiences and perceptions of the design of 3-D learning spaces on their collaborative learning and teaching, for three distinct models of learning spaces in Second Life
- investigate the pedagogical benefits provided by a semi-immersive 3-D Virtual Reality environment (large screen, stereo projection, for audiences up to 40), as compared to the less immersive learning space offered by Second Life
- propose a suite of models for the design of 3-D virtual learning environments for different pedagogical requirements (e.g. for different disciplines or types of activities) and contexts (e.g. online learning versus face-to-face education)
The project will involve activities based at: (1) The Open University (OU); and (2) University of Nottingham (NU). It will make use of the two universities' Second Life islands and ongoing research initiatives in 3-D virtual environments. It will use the expertise and facilities of the Virtual Reality Laboratory at the University of Nottingham, one of the facilities created for the Nottingham arm of the HEFCE-funded Spatial Literacy in Teaching (SPLINT) Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning.
The primary focus of work at the OU will be investigating the ‘realism’ strand of the project. The primary focus of NU’s work will be the ‘immersion strand. The two strands will be drawn together to answer the questions – how should 3-D learning spaces be designed for learner engagement?; and how much immersion is required and what sort of realism should we be aiming for when designing 3-D learning spaces?
The two strands of the research, at OU and NU, will be drawn together as follows:
- by comparing students’ experiences in three learning spaces of different levels of realism in Second Life
- by moving the OU and NU students between (1) the immersive environment of NU’s VR lab and (2) Second Life
- by comparing the students’ experiences in (1) and (2)