1 Carleton University (CANADA)
2 Avaya Inc. (CANADA)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN10 Proceedings
Publication year: 2010
Pages: 4726-4736
ISBN: 978-84-613-9386-2
ISSN: 2340-1117
Conference name: 2nd International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 5-7 July, 2010
Location: Barcelona, Spain
The use of virtual environments and on-line collaboration tools is rapidly growing. This is thanks to hardware and software advances, and due to advantages such as ease of customization and remote access. In particular, educators are using virtual environments to not only offer content but also allow participants to collaborate and interact in realistic training scenarios and virtually “learn to do”. Immersive online collaboration research to date has focused predominantly on qualitative analysis of feedback from participants, and quantitative analysis of some objectives. Empirical collaboration and learning studies tend to focus on effectiveness, efficiency, productivity, commitment, and satisfaction as key metrics to evaluate tools and scenarios.
The first objective of the proposed research is to design an avatar-based 3D virtual environment for students to attend lectures, have real time conversations, access multimedia content and practice their learned skills by acting in simulated situations. We use web.alive technology from Avaya as the base framework, and through collaboration with educators, design and develop the virtual environment, animated characters, customized multimedia content, interactive training scenarios, and other parts of the educational experience. In the virtual simulation environment designed, the participants will have access to a series of different lecture and simulation arrangements. The environment is designed and tested within the framework of a course on domestic violence for students coming from different backgrounds (nurses, police officers, emergency response professionals, etc). In the simulation environments they will be presented situations very similar to real life (including user-controlled avatars and if necessary AI-based non-player characters) and expected to respond. The role playing will be recorded and provided as an assignment to the lecturer to evaluate and provide feedback.
Our second objective is to provide a series of detailed and quantitative analytical tools and metrics in order to study and compare different pedagogical methods. We have equipped our immersive environment with significant telemetry allowing us to, for example, determine what a given participant is looking at, what they might be paying attention to, who they are talking to, at what distance they are standing from other participants, etc. and more importantly how these might change over time. Using this data, we create different collaborative spaces in our 3D environment to test the effectiveness of alternative modalities for classroom training. For example the effect of screen arrangement in a lecture hall on the students’ attention can be analyzed by re-organizing the environment and gathering telemetry. Some of the logged data fields are Date, Time, IP Address, Username, 3D Coordinates and Orientation, Event Triggers, and Conversations. Measurements will be on-going in nature and sampled before, during and after each of the learning scenarios. We will use the measurements to determine the participants’ levels of cognitive and social presence. Other collected data will include pre and post lecture collaboration such as students getting together in groups to discuss content.
The preliminary results show that our virtual environment is effective not only in providing the educational experience but also in collecting data otherwise not available.
virtual environment, avatar, education, data.