RWTH Aachen University (GERMANY)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN20 Proceedings
Publication year: 2020
Pages: 2177-2181
ISBN: 978-84-09-17979-4
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2020.0679
Conference name: 12th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 6-7 July, 2020
Location: Online Conference
The voice is one of a lecturer’s most important tool for conveying information and to capture the students’ attention. Nevertheless, lecturers often lack knowledge of their voice’s proper and effective use. Furthermore, a permanent incorrect use can result in chronic voice impairments, possibly even leading to occupational incapacity. This is why many universities offer voice trainings to their lecturers. Usually, however, the surroundings in which such trainings take place are not representative of the participants’ working environment. This is particularly the case in engineering sciences, where a single lecture is often attended by hundreds or even thousands of students.

This circumstance is addressed by the joint project "ELLI 2" - Excellent Teaching and Learning in Engineering Science, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). Within the framework of this project, the innovative Mixed Reality (MR) supported Voice Training offers lecturers the opportunity to train their voice in a hybrid setting consisting of a professional voice coach and a Virtual Voice Training Environment (VVTE). On the one hand, the application of the VVTE allows trainers to enrich their seminars with reasonable technology. On the other hand, it is thought to facilitate the transfer of what has been learned by the participants to their actual teaching environment.

The VVTE is an acoustic as well as a visual simulation of the daily teaching environment of the participants. To generate these simulations, data from real lecture halls have been used. To create the visual simulation, the lecture halls were captured using 360° cameras. Additionally, each room’s reverberation is acoustically simulated based on estimations and original construction plans. Using a head mounted display, headphones and a microphone, participants can immerse into this environment. Here, they are simultaneously supervised and provided with direct feedback by a professional voice coach. This allows the participants to apply the methods and exercises in a safe and realistic virtual environment, thus, preparing them for their actual workspace.

As part of a newly developed hybrid voice training seminar, the VVTE was tested. Both the participants and the voice coach were enthusiastic about the opportunity to practice in a virtual environment. The participants reported a very good immersion, after a few minutes they had the feeling of actually being present in the simulated room. Furthermore, the voice coach reported a change of the participants’ vocal effort depending on the respective room’s visual and acoustic settings.

This paper discusses the opportunities and challenges of a hybrid exercise setting based on first evaluation results, contributing to the question whether a Mixed Reality training environment facilitates the transfer of acquired skills and therefore constitutes a reasonable addition to classical voice trainings. Furthermore, technical opportunities and challenges for the development of VVTE are identified and possibilities of further improving the technical realization of a large audience by e.g. adding visual and audible features to the simulation are to be explored.
Hybrid Training, Voice Training, Mixed Reality, Virtual Simulation, Large Lecture Hals, Soft Skills, Lecturers.