Title: Conceptual support with virtual reality in Web-based learning

Authors: Piet A.M. Kommers, Zhao Zhiming

Addresses: University of Twente, Educational Science and Technology, Department of Instrumentation, Postbox 217, 7500 AE Enschede, The Netherlands. ' University of Twente, Educational Science and Technology, Department of Instrumentation, Postbox 217, 7500 AE Enschede, The Netherlands

Abstract: The fast growing attention for multi-modality, full three-dimensional virtual reality (VR) and the avoidance of anisotropy has partly supplanted the designer|s attention for the students| conceptual states. This paper is intended to prepare and structure the VR course for educationalists on the Web, and provides an overview of ongoing research into the urgent question of how to orient students in conceptually complex domains using VR. The central theme is to give an overview of VR learning environments that enable learners to explore new physical spaces, but even more important is to let them experiment with new materials, complex processes like kinaesthetic, extruding, casting, etc. Virtual reality becomes a substantial and ubiquitous technology and subsequently penetrates applications for education, learning and training. In addition to multimedia, VR places the user in a three-dimensional environment. The user feels |in the middle of another environment|. Most VR systems allow the user to travel and navigate. More promising for learning purposes is to let the user manipulate objects and experience the consequences. This paper introduces the potential impact of |immersion| for learning environments, the current state of the art in VR, its drawbacks, the overall metaphor of virtuality and the most feasible application areas. The main section of the report is the research agenda for VR in the next few years. The recommendations involve VR and collaborative aspects (multi-user domain, object-oriented) its integration with video conferencing, drama and constructionism, temporal awareness, and finally the integration into special curricular topics. The goal of this paper is the gradual embedding of VR elements in current research and developmental practices. In particular, the fast propagation of WWW-based tele-learning can benefit from the VR prospects, as VR programs can now be accessed by the most common Web browsers such as Netscape Navigator and Internet Explorer.

Keywords: virtual reality; virtual classroom; WWW; cyberspace; virtual learning environments; conceptual support; web based learning; multi-user domain; object-oriented; multi-user database; technology; navigation; intraface; immersion; VRML; multimedia; hypermedia; constructionism; internet; online learning; e-learning; electronic learning.

DOI: 10.1504/IJCEELL.1998.030134

International Journal of Continuing Engineering Education and Life-Long Learning, 1998 Vol.8 No.1/2, pp.184 - 203

Published online: 11 Dec 2009 *

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