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The effects of navigational control and environmental detail on learning in 3D virtual environments

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4 Author(s)
Ragan, E.D. ; Dept. of Comput. Sci., Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, USA ; Huber, K.J. ; Laha, Bireswar ; Bowman, D.A.

Studying what design features are necessary and effective for educational virtual environments (VEs), we focused on two design issues: level of environmental detail and method of navigation. In a controlled experiment, participants studied animal facts distributed among different locations in an immersive VE. Participants viewed the information as either an automated tour through the environment or with full navigational control. The experiment also compared two levels of environmental detail: a sparse environment with only the animal fact cards and a detailed version that also included landmark items and ground textures. The experiment tested memory and understanding of the animal information. Though neither environmental detail nor navigation type significantly affected learning outcomes, the results suggest that manual navigation may have negatively affected the learning activity. Also, learning scores were correlated with both spatial ability and video game usage, suggesting that educational VEs may not be an appropriate presentation method for some learners.

Published in:

Virtual Reality Short Papers and Posters (VRW), 2012 IEEE

Date of Conference:

4-8 March 2012