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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Creating the Right Environment for Your 3D Learning Experience

An important element in creating effective learning in a 3D virtual world is to create the right environment. Since virtual immersive environments are, by definition, immersive, the environment plays a critical role in the training process.

A 3D world can be realistic like putting a person in a sales situation and asking them to perform or it can be more surreal like having a doctor walk through a giant heart to gain another perspective on human anatomy.

To create the right environment, you need to ask yourself some questions.
  • Should the learning be in a realistic environment?
  • Can it be in a more stylized or surreal setting or even a setting not possible in real life?
  • What do the learners need to do in this environment?
  • What role does the environment play in the learning process?
  • Is the environment a backdrop to the learning experience or an integrated element required for learning?
When the learning environment requires realism, virtual worlds are an effective solution. They can mimic the physical world by realistically depicting cityscapes, vehicles and machinery. If the fidelity required to ensure optimal performance is high, virtual worlds can provide the necessary realism. The graphical and auditory realism of many virtual worlds allow for highly realistic depictions of realistic objects. This can be critical when teaching the operation of gages, dials and switches. It also provides an authentic environment in which the learner can practice. Virtual worlds can also allow for the inclusion of realistic settings, clothing and weather conditions. All of these visual cues become encoded in the learner’s mind and make it easier for him or her to recall the learning in the exact setting in which it is required.

 On the other hand, VIEs can provide the learner with an immersive experience in which he or she could not otherwise venture. For example, a person can be dropped into the center of a volcano or shrunk to the size of a molecule and explore the blood stream or even experience life as a member of the opposite gender. VIEs can provide a context for teaching difficult to grasp concepts through immersion of the learner into a completely foreign environment. When considering the creation of a virtual world learning experience keep in mind the importance of the environment and make that a key element of your development process. __
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Angela Rand said...

Great tips and exactly the sort of practical pedagogical input that is needed for VW educators. Thanks!

Marina Miranda said...

This was a great post, because we really need to take into consideration the environment that the learners will learn. The environment is a big part of the learning experience and if it is not the right environment, this will affect the amount of knowledge that it will be grasped.

Posted by Marina Miranda