University of Malta (MALTA)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2017 Proceedings
Publication year: 2017
Pages: 2069-2079
ISBN: 978-84-617-8491-2
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2017.0615
Conference name: 11th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 6-8 March, 2017
Location: Valencia, Spain
Virtual reality technology has been employed in education for a number of years as it empowers the learners to take control of their actions while interacting with other learners on top of the excitement of interacting within a three-dimensional environment. In this research we document a work-in-progress to establish a standardised framework containing a number of metrics used for the measurement of the effectiveness of courses, whether traditional/blended, e-learning or VR-learning. The research presents the use of Virtual Reality technology in learning as a use case to justify the need for a standard effectiveness evaluation framework, to be able to judge the quality of courses regardless of the medium chosen for their delivery.

Highly immersive virtual reality technology has been available since the second half of the 20th century, with applications in the entertainment industry such as 'Sensorama' captivating audiences and being hailed as the future of cinema. Despite the availability of the technology, literature reports several concerns and limitations that restrict the widespread use of virtual reality in other fields, primarily due to the high cost of the hardware and software required for the technology as well as the high cost of creating material for such technology.

With the ever-increasing rise in the power and affordability of desktop computer systems, low-cost virtual reality systems are making their way into aspects of society beyond entertainment. Teachers and educational institutions are using off-the-shelf technology such as PlayStation® EyeToy, Nintendo Wii®, Google Cardboard®, Microsoft Kinect®  and Second Life® in applications ranging from physiotherapy to archaeology and education. Although such forms of virtual reality are less immersive, they still provide instruction designers and teachers with a captivating tool to further reach an audience of students of all ages.

Important developments in the past three years have once again put virtual reality in the limelight: In March 2014, Facebook purchased Oculus, a company that had launched a Kickstarter campaign in 2012 and successfully funded the Rift®, a VR headset incorporating audio, for $2 billion. Since then, several large players including Google, Samsung, HTC and Sony have launched VR products aimed at the consumer market.

The use of VR can teach students in new ways. Educators have instructed students on building 3D objects in Second Life to teach abstract concepts. Swift Playgrounds® teaches young programmers the basic concepts of programming by allowing them to control an avatar using sequence, selection and iteration concepts. A team has used a virtual reality environment to teach young children how to safely cross roads. In these and other studies, virtual reality has been proven to be an effective tool for teaching a large variety of skills.

Literature related to a number issues including latest VR developments, pedagogical issues, and e-learning was reviewed, leading to a gap analysis discussion and metric proposal. These metrics may be used by instructional designers and educators to aid in the assessment of courses across media, and also by future researchers to increase the body of knowledge in the area of instruction effectiveness.
VR Learning, VRLE, e-learning effectiveness, e-learning metrics.