Outdoor learning experiences, such as field trips, can improve children’s science achievement and engagement, but these experiences are often difficult to deliver without extensive support. Narrative in educational experiences can provide needed structure, while also increasing engagement. We created a narrative-based, mobile application to investigate how to guide young learners in interacting with their local, outdoor environment. In a second variant, we added augmented reality and image classification to explore the value of these features. A study (n=44) found that participants using our system demonstrated learning gains and found the experience engaging. Our findings identified several major themes, including participant excitement for hands-on interactions with nature, curiosity about the characters, and enthusiasm toward typing their thoughts and observations. We offer a set of design implications for supporting narrative-based, outdoor learning with immersive technology.
When living apart, grandparents and grandchildren often use audio-visual communication approaches to stay connected. However, these approaches seldom provide sufficient companionship and intimacy due to a lack of co-presence and spatial interaction, which can be fulfilled by immersive virtual reality (VR). To understand how grandparents and grandchildren might leverage VR to facilitate their remote communication and better inform future design, we conducted a user-centered participatory design study with twelve pairs of grandparents and grandchildren. Results show that VR affords casual and equal communication by reducing the generational gap, and promotes conversation by offering shared activities as bridges for connection. Participants preferred resemblant appearances on avatars for conveying well-being but created ideal selves for gaining playfulness. Based on the results, we contribute eight design implications that inform future VR-based grandparent-grandchild communications.
Remote conferencing systems are increasingly used to supplement or even replace in-person teaching. However, prevailing conferencing systems restrict the teacher's representation to a webcam live-stream, hamper the teacher's use of body-language, and result in students' decreased sense of co-presence and participation. While Virtual Reality (VR) systems may increase student engagement, the teacher may not have the time or expertise to conduct the lecture in VR. To address this issue and bridge the requirements between students and teachers, we have developed Tutor In-sight, a Mixed Reality (MR) avatar augmented into the student's workspace based on four design requirements derived from the existing literature, namely: integrated virtual with physical space, improved teacher's co-presence through avatar, direct attention with auto-generated body language, and usable workflow for teachers. Two user studies were conducted from the perspectives of students and teachers to determine the advantages of Tutor In-sight in comparison to two existing conferencing systems, Zoom (video-based) and Mozilla Hubs (VR-based). The participants of both studies favoured Tutor In-sight. Among others, this main finding indicates that Tutor In-sight satisfied the needs of both teachers and students. In addition, the participants' feedback was used to empirically determine the four main teacher requirements and the four main student requirements in order to improve the future design of MR educational tools.
Despite the value of VR (Virtual Reality) for educational purposes, the instructional power of VR in Biology Laboratory education remains under-explored. Laboratory lectures can be challenging due to students' low motivation to learn abstract scientific concepts and low retention rate. Therefore, we designed a VR-based lecture on fermentation and compared its effectiveness with lectures using PowerPoint slides and a desktop application. Grounded in the theory of distributed cognition and motivational theories, our study examined how learning happens in each condition from students' learning outcomes, behaviors, and perceptions. Our result indicates that VR facilitates students' long-term retention to learn by cultivating their longer visual attention and fostering a higher sense of immersion, though students' short-term retention remains the same across all conditions. This study extends current research on VR studies by identifying the characteristics of each teaching artifact and providing design implications for integrating VR technology into higher education.
The rapid growth of Internet-of-Things (IoT) applications has generated interest from many industries and a need for graduates with relevant knowledge. An IoT system is comprised of spatially distributed interactions between humans and various interconnected IoT components. These interactions are contextualized within their ambient environment, thus impeding educators from recreating authentic tasks for hands-on IoT learning. We propose LearnIoTVR, an end-to-end virtual reality (VR) learning environment which helps students to acquire IoT knowledge through immersive design, programming, and exploration of real-world environments empowered by IoT (e.g., a smart house). The students start the learning process by installing virtual IoT components we created in different locations inside the VR environment so that the learning will be situated in the same context where the IoT is applied. With our custom-designed 3D block-based language, students can program IoT behaviors directly within VR and get immediate feedback on their programming outcome. In the user study, we evaluated the learning outcomes among students using LearnIoTVR with a pre- and post-test to understand to what extent does engagement in LearnIoTVR lead to gains in learning programming skills and IoT competencies. Additionally, we examined what aspects of LearnIoTVR support usability and learning of programming skills compared to a traditional desktop-based learning environment. The results from these studies were promising. We also acquired insightful user feedback which provides inspiration for further expansions of this system.
Children are one of the groups most influenced by COVID-19-related social distancing, and a lack of contact with peers can limit their opportunities to develop social and collaborative skills. However, remote socialization and collaboration as an alternative approach is still a great challenge for children. This paper presents MR.Brick, a Mixed Reality (MR) educational game system that helps children adapt to remote collaboration. A controlled experimental study involving 24 children aged six to ten was conducted to compare MR.Brick with the traditional video game by measuring their social and collaborative skills and analyzing their multi-modal playing behaviours. The results showed that MR.Brick was more conducive to children's remote collaboration experience than the traditional video game. Given the lack of training systems designed for children to collaborate remotely, this study may inspire interaction design and educational research in related fields.