Aalen University of Applied Sciences (GERMANY)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN20 Proceedings
Publication year: 2020
Pages: 481-490
ISBN: 978-84-09-17979-4
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2020.0207
Conference name: 12th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 6-7 July, 2020
Location: Online Conference
In recent years, the technologies for virtual and augmented realities (VR/AR) have improved significantly. These extended reality (XR) techniques are now mature enough to be used in real use cases. One potential application field is the e-learning in higher education. Currently, the lectures at universities or in vocational training mainly consists of frontal teaching, whereby the teacher or professor presents the learning content in theory. This way of teaching though is not suitable for all learning contents, as not every content can be adequately conveyed using two dimensional information. This paper investigates several research projects in the field of VR and AR applications for learning and derive application fields for this technology in higher education. Besides the opportunities of XR techniques, we take a closer look at the current challenges the two technologies are facing.

VR gives the students the opportunity to learn complex subjects in a playful way. These so-called Serious Games are based on educational and didactic teaching concepts in combination with elements of entertainment games. Furthermore, VR offers the possibility to simulate special situations, which rarely occur during the vocational training. Therefore, these situations must not only be treated in theory, but can also be trained practically. The same applies for the training on virtual machines, which are not physically available (or not in adequate quantity).

With AR the physical world can be extended with additional information. Processes which are invisible for the humans’ eyes like magnetic fields can be visualized directly in the real world. Students therefore no longer need to imagine these processes – with in the worst false understanding. Additionally, text based learning materials can be enriched with three-dimensional representations. In contrast to two-dimensional images AR allows to display spatial information, which are often necessary for understanding. Another advantage of learning with AR is the flexibility: The devices for superimposing the real world are location-independent, which makes it possible for students to practice the learning content directly in a realistic environment.

However, the technology is currently facing certain challenges. One aspect to consider when learning with XR is Cyber Sickness. There is a risk that students get sick or feel unwell during a training. Besides that, the interaction in VR or AR applications is presently not intuitive and the hardware is partly uncomfortable to wear, which can negatively influence the learning effect. Moreover, there is currently little experience of how to design learning modules for extended worlds. Since it enables independent and individual learning, different aspects have to be taken into account when designing the learning modules, in contrast to classical teaching methods.

XR allow a new way of learning, which is able to motivate the students and enhance their understanding. In the future the hardware will become better and cheaper, therefore the funding and development of such applications will get easier and thus the number and quality of this learning applications will increase as well. Based on this, currently we are developing VR and AR learning applications as well as systems to detect and handle Cyber Sickness.
XR Techniques, e-learning, VR/AR Learning, Cyber Sickness, Higher Education.