Designing and Evaluating Virtual Reality for Learning

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Designing Virtual Reality for Education

Designing Virtual Reality for EducationFarzana LatifUniversity of Sheffield, United Kingdom

My name is Farzana Latif and my role if Technology Enhanced Learning Manager at the University of Sheffield.

OutlineWhat is VREducational valueDesigning VRExamplesEnabling technologies and their limitationsHorizon

What is Virtual Reality?A high-end user interface that involves real time simulation and interaction through multiple sensorial channels (vision, taste, smell, touch)Girgorie and Phillipe (2003)

Around since the 60sNow, more achievable

Many of you will aware of what Virtual Reality is. Girgorie and Phillipe describe it as a real time simulation which allows integration through different sensorial channels. VR is defiantly not a new phenomom, it has been around since the 1960s. Arguably over the last 20 years becoming a more achievable option and thanks to powerful mobile devices, with the supplement of a google cardboard and some headphones most of us can experience VR with technology we already have.

In Virtual Reality you are completely immersed in a digital environment. This is different to Augmented Reality where digital media is imposed on the world around you. This is shown on this mixed reality continuum. I think its important to make this distinction as in some of the literature I have read the two terms sometime get merged.


combines external devices


Looking at some modern examples, we can see how some of the more high end virtual reality combine external devices and enable collaboration. The first picture shows someone experiencing a VR fitness game. Supported by the machines that she is standing on, she feels like she is flying and she is improving her fitness levels at the same time.

The next image. The two learners can explore and interact with this 3D model together. (Case Western Reserve, Cleveland Clinic).


He thought there was a table thereso immersive you can forget where you are

VR can be an extremely immersive expereience, Ronnie O Suullival - world snooker champion trying VR snooker, shows just how immersive it can be as he plays VR snooker. The experience is so real that he forgets he is in a Virtual World.

Educational ValueExperience the Un-ExperienceableHistorical, Scientific, MedicalInaccessible placesView from a different perspectiveOrientationsEnvironmental ObservationsImmersive StorytellingSimulated Practice Training to operate complex machinery

Dalgarno and Lee (2010)inside the human body

Designing for LearningIntended Learning OutcomesAchieved Learning OutcomesEmpathyReificationIdentificationConceptualisation ConstructionDialoguePresenceIdentityCo-PresenceRepresentational Fidelity Learner Interaction

Learning RequirementTaskAffordancesLearning Specification

adapted from Fowler 2014

pedagogical benefitstechnology benefits

learning experiencepsychological experience

This model is developed by Fowler and is focused on designing 3D Virtual Learning Environments and is derived from the work of others. outlines the importance of learning valuesleft hand side helps us think about the pedagogical benefitsthese map onto the learning and psychological immersive experiences the right hand side focuses on what the technology itself can offer and enables us to think about how we can achieve this.

Representational fidelity - how realistic the scene is, not just how real. One risk with high-fidelity 3-D VLEs is that they will be used to create virtual classrooms that feel and look like real classrooms but lose the opportunity to create pedagogically new and innovative learning environments.

Accessible for All

Creating Simple VR experiences. Easier (in terms of time) to create, inexpensive. More accessible option. Can be created and viewed by all. Capturing real world.

Creating advanced VR experiences can take time, requires expert skills (e.g. 3D modelling, coding), costly, inaccessible.

focusReusable VR experiences, (e.g. Google Expeditions)

A number of out of the box VR solutions exist, examples include Google expeditions, which allows you to be immersed in places all over the world and some educators are sharing the VR experiences, the University of Liverpool in the UK have created VR simulations that take you inside the human body. But the problem with using tools like this is that they aresnt necessarily going to be aligned to your educational scenario. On the other hand to create some of the experiences I have showed so far, takes a lot of skills and require high cost devices. So its not always achievable for everyone.

As I mentioned I am going to focus on simple VR experiences. To create our VR experience we will be relying on a 360 camera and web based software to edit and share them. These experiences can be viewed with higher end smart phones (that have a gyroscope and now what direction you are looking) and the relatively cheap Google cardboard.

There are many camera, how do they compare:

If you cant get access to a 360 camera, try Google Cardboard Camera on your mobile, it stiches photos together

Google cardboard viewers

Going to focus on creating simpler experiences, that offer pedagogic value and will outline tools that can be used to create these experiences.

Image Attributes:HTC ViveGoogle CardboardRicoh Theta

Orientation Lab

students dont enter the lab until year 2they are divided into 2 groupstime is limited, they suffer from anxietyoffers an orientation to labview entire lab, from a different perspectivemake most of contact time, flipped resourceaccess to restricted areasunable to explore the entire lab

This first example provides an orientation to a Chemistry Lab. In their Degree in Chemistry students do not actually enter a lab until the 2nd year. Its a very large space and when they do they often feel anxious about the experience. This VR experience was created

Orientation - Labcombine existing resourcesembed video and (spatial) audioadd hotspots

Orientation - Labno interaction, other than click on viewcamera qualityanalytics - limitedRoundMEYouVisit- view with cardboard

gamification, individualised experienceLimitations

Landscapetasked with redesigning landscapeaccess is restricted or dangeroussaves travel time and moneyused as a point of reference (spatial knowledge)see things you might have missed83% (n. 30) found this useful as a site referenceoverlay images to recreate the landscapecapture seasons/important to visit as many times as possible

LandscapeGoogle street view app- view with cardboard



Fieldworkpreparation for field tripaccess to an area you are unable to viewwhere should the viewer focuskeeping the cameraman out of shotfield trips are expensive and difficult to organisestudents can learn from each others tripstudents can learn from each other

field trip experiences are expensive and difficult to organisemost value when thereprovide access to those unable to attend

Orientation Labfilming time (5 mins-new Ricoh, 25 mins - old Ricoh)camera qualityunable to add hotspotsYouTubeFacebook VideoWondaVR/ThingLinkKaltura(above do not allow editing)Sprawly

more advanced option - GoProVRoverlaying 3D modelsLimitations

Evaluation with StudentsPre and Post TestSuggestions to Improve ExperiencesUsability and Educational EffectivenessPerceived Value

Christine Youngblut (1998)

Student Work

ConsiderationsExperiences are short lived (THE, 2016)Ergonomics, nausea, pains, dont work well with glassesCreating truly immersive experiences - in built interaction neededMany platforms are in beta

Quality of camera and cheap viewersCost of more expensive headsetsCross platform experiencesToo much Interaction can be distracting

avoid recreating the real classroom.Fowler (2014) Little evaluation across the sector raises queries of investment vs. impact

Near Future

Two EyesMixed Reality (AR and VR)

Education and Industry

Headset Compatibility

Useful ToolsCreating high quality VR can take time, requires expert skillsVR Worlds (3D Social Tools)

ALTSpaceVR, vTime and Immersion VR, Edorble

customisation variesmany in beta modeCoding

UnityWebVR3D modelling

CoSpaces(beta mode)

Out of the Box

Google ExpeditionsWeb Interface/No Coding

Boinx Software


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