Collaborative Immersive Virtual Environments for Education in Geography



Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source ISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

WWW on-line verze článku
Keywords immersive virtual reality; collaborative immersive virtual environment; immersion; sense of presence; telepresence; Head-mounted display; cyberpsychology; human–computer interaction; collaborative learning; hypsography; contour lines; map literacy
Description Immersive virtual reality (iVR) devices are rapidly becoming an important part of our lives and forming a new way for people to interact with computers and each other. The impact and consequences of this innovative technology have not yet been satisfactory explored. This empirical study investigated the cognitive and social aspects of collaboration in a shared, immersive virtual reality. A unique application for implementing a collaborative immersive virtual environment (CIVE) was developed by our interdisciplinary team as a software solution for educational purposes, with two scenarios for learning about hypsography, i.e., explanations of contour line principles. Both scenarios allow switching between a usual 2D contour map and a 3D model of the corresponding terrain to increase the intelligibility and clarity of the educational content. Gamification principles were also applied to both scenarios to augment user engagement during the completion of tasks. A qualitative research approach was adopted to obtain a deep insight into the lived experience of users in a CIVE. It was thus possible to form a deep understanding of very new subject matter. Twelve pairs of participants were observed during their CIVE experience and then interviewed either in a semistructured interview or a focus group. Data from these three research techniques were analyzed using interpretative phenomenological analysis, which is research method for studying individual experience. Four superordinate themes—with detailed descriptions of experiences shared by numerous participants—emerged as results from the analysis; we called these (1) Appreciation for having a collaborator, (2) The Surprising “Fun with Maps”, (3) Communication as a challenge, and (4) Cognition in two realities. The findings of the study indicate the importance of the social dimension during education in a virtual environment and the effectiveness of dynamic and interactive 3D visualization.
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