Personalisation of 3D virtual spaces for enhanced ubiquitous learning

Saleeb, Noha ORCID logoORCID:, Dafoulas, George ORCID logoORCID: and Loomes, Martin J. (2016) Personalisation of 3D virtual spaces for enhanced ubiquitous learning. In: Handbook of Research on 3-D Virtual Environments and Hypermedia for Ubiquitous Learning. Neto, Francisco Milton Mendes, de Souza, Rafael and Gomes, Alex Sandro, eds. Advances in Game-Based Learning . IGI Global, pp. 87-114. ISBN 9781522501251. [Book Section] (doi:10.4018/978-1-5225-0125-1.ch004)


Three-dimensional Virtual Learning Environments (3D VLEs) have been increasingly recognised over the past decade as media that add value to both blended and e-learning experiences, for varieties of students and educators. The novelty of practice afforded by 3D VLEs, such as Second Life, has persuaded many universities, such as Harvard, Princeton, Oxford, to construct 3D virtual campuses (Kozhevnikov & Garcia, 2011).

As a result, many opportunities have arisen for 3D designers and architects to create educational buildings inside such 3D VLEs, crossing the limits of reality and probing into the realms of imaginative fictional building due to the essential difference between the physical and a virtual world, where there are no constraints on budgets, natural forces or physics, material strength, or even infrastructure requirements and regulations (Bridges & Charitos, 1997). The absence of gravitational force, for example, allows for 3D virtual buildings to look futuristic, float in mid-air or be situated under the deepest ocean. Such novel design concepts have been used to build virtual university campuses in 3D VLEs to produce a wide diversity of designs ranging from realistic portrayals, or replicas of physically existing campuses, to completely imaginative embodiments (Alarifi, 2008). However there is currently very little research discussing the suitability or effects of these varieties of fictional designs on students’ e-learning experiences in 3D VLEs (Lucia et al., 2009, Minocha & Reeves, 2010, Ewais & Troyer, 2014). Furthermore, current design practices for creating 3D virtual buildings are ad-hoc, not following any predefined processes, guidelines or methodologies to ensure best design practices for enhancing the e-learning they support (Seidel et al., 2010, Fonseca et al. 2014).

From experience and general student feedback, Minocha et al. (2010) claim that design and usability of 3D learning spaces are key factors that influence student experience, learning, engagement, motivation (Joua & Liu 2011) and performance (Montoya et al 2011). Ubiquitous learning takes into account the context, characteristics, behaviour and preferences of the students so that the system can provide content and features tailored for them regardless of location and time of access. Therefore this research investigates and discusses the impact of different architectural digital design elements of 3D virtual educational facilities according to student preferences, behaviours and performances, (e.g. space shape, size, colour, texture, dimensions,) on a student’s e-learning experience in 3D VLEs. The research focuses on specific measures of this impact on learning objectives including information retention, student participation and the extent to which students report enjoying the experience. Further analysis explores which elements of design cause specific effects, and hence finally what design configuration or recommendations could be best used to guide the design process of creating and customising 3D virtual learning spaces for users’ specific purposes and personalisation, thus enhancing the student’s overall learning experience in 3D VLEs.

This paper commences by establishing from literature the significance of 3D VLEs as a medium for delivery of e-learning, and in parallel, crafts a rich description of the importance of architectural design elements on learning. Examples of existing types of 3D virtual architecture are also illustrated, to be tested for their effects on e-learning in 3D VLEs such as Second Life. This study also explores, using surveys and experiments, the specific effects of different architectural design features of 3D virtual educational buildings on higher-education learners during online e-learning sessions and project work identified as one of the benefits conducted in 3D virtual worlds (Karsakov et al, 2014, Laffey et al., 2014). Architectural design features tested include shape of class, lighting and open spaces, dimensions and size of space, colours, textures and other aspects. Learners are divided into three groups: (i) under-graduate students, (ii) postgraduate students, and (iii) adult learners and researchers. Results are thus demonstrated comprising charts and diagrams capturing, using surveys and experiments, the extent of learners’ enjoyment, information retention, and participation from being inside different 3D virtual university campuses in virtual worlds with different design characteristics. Design recommendations, proposed by expert virtual designers during interviews, are furthermore compared with the experimental results. Consequently, design characteristics causing highest student retention, participation, contentment, preferences and suggestions for design of a better learning environment are established aiding constructivist design of educational curricula (Chau et al., 2013).

These provide embryonic guidelines for customised / personalised design practices inside 3D VLEs to create 3D virtual educational spaces best suited for ubiquitous “any-time” “any-place” e-learning of each individual student. This will serve the public body of e-learners by informing best practices for developers in pedagogy and all related disciplines, e.g. developers of 3D environments, e-learning media and content, computer graphic developers and educational game designers, thus aiding in managing and guiding the otherwise current ad-hoc design approach to building educational facilities in 3D Virtual Learning Environments.

Item Type: Book Section
Research Areas: A. > School of Science and Technology > Computer Science > Intelligent Environments group
Item ID: 18102
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Depositing User: George Dafoulas
Date Deposited: 14 Oct 2015 09:39
Last Modified: 21 Oct 2019 18:37

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