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In recent years there has been significant growth in the use of virtual worlds for e-learning. These immersive environments offer enhanced distance learning facilities where students can participate in individual and group activities, using advanced communication tools, inside complex and highly interactive simulations. Video games have entered the mainstream as a popular entertainment format and are starting to be adopted as teaching tools. This paper explores how virtual worlds and video games techniques can be used to create highly immersive and engaging environments for teaching engineering related material. It will show how the presentation layer of remote laboratories, which are traditionally 2-D in nature, could be enhanced by the use of 3-D to facilitate new types of remote interactions and methods of visualizing and interacting with data. The Circuit Warz project is introduced and demonstrates how immersive virtual worlds can be used to create a game based approach to teaching, which supports and complements traditional delivery methods using a collaborative team based competitive format with an underlying hardware infrastructure.
Date of Publication: Feb. 2013