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VIRTUAL GUIDES:                                                           A Hybrid Approach                               ...
Even young children can pick up an Apple        between theory, exploration, and activity-iPad or a mobile phone and swipe...
A point that immersive training shares in       Student motivation varies depending uponcommon       with    traditional  ...
still allowing them freedom to make their           The skill levels can be assessed using aown choices within a virtual e...
Arthur provides comical antics along with                       students feel like they have a real mentorhis knowledge to...
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Virtual guides: A Hybrid Approach to Immersive Learning


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This Paper was presented at GameTech 2012 along with Cynthia Calongne, D.CS of Colorado Technical University about Virtual Guides blending the need for information with feedback and progress checks as learners perform learning activities within virtual world simulations and serious games.

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Virtual guides: A Hybrid Approach to Immersive Learning

  1. 1. VIRTUAL GUIDES: A Hybrid Approach to Immersive Learning David Fliesen Cynthia Calongne, D.CS Sonalysts, Inc. Colorado Technical University AbstractVirtual Guides blend the need for information with feedback and progress checks as learnersperform learning activities within virtual world simulations and serious games. They offer ahybrid approach to immersive learning with alternatives for delivery and implementation. Whenstudents have a mentor or sensei to guide them along the path of knowledge, they are able tomake decisions with increased confidence and the Virtual Guides provide it within the 3D virtuallearning environment. This use of Virtual Guides has been conducted in multiple virtual worldsthat use Second LifeTM, OpenSim, and Unity3D for serious game and simulation development.Conclusions and recommendations for future work include assessing the benefits of VirtualGuides for non-linear games and immersive learning applications.About the Authors Cynthia Calongne is Chair of Emerging Media and Professor of Computer Science atDavid Fliesen is a virtual worlds & serious Colorado Technical University. Hergames designer with Sonalysts, Inc., where research features 100 conferencehe has served as principal investigator for presentations that blend computer science,Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) emerging media, virtual worlds, education,Phase I contracts for the U.S. Navy on interaction and game design, robotics, andVirtual War Games and the Office of the innovation. Her team won the FederalSecretary of Defense on Medical Gaming, as Virtual World Challenges Grand Prize atwell as project leader for the Navy’s GameTech 2010 for the Mars ExpeditionMassive Multiplayer Online War Game Strategy Challenge.Leveraging the Internet (MMOWGLI)feasibility study. His Sun Tzu automated Introductionavatar demo was presented at MODSIMWorld 2009 and he was a guest speaker on As Digital Natives ii(Prensky, 2001), todaysthe topic of Virtual Intelligencei at MODSIM learners comprise the majority of students inWorld Canada 2010. He has served as a classrooms around the world, and they arefuturist for the Department of Defense restless. Growing up with the Web, online(DoD) and as a Master Training Specialist media, and gaming technology since birth,for the Defense Information School they know instinctively how to use it. The(DINFOS). Internet has always been there for them.
  2. 2. Even young children can pick up an Apple between theory, exploration, and activity-iPad or a mobile phone and swipe or touch it based learning. There are several differentto navigate, often in ways that their parents models for Virtual Guides to supporthave yet to master. different learning and interaction styles.As the French novelist Marcel Proustilluminated years before the dawn of theInternet and prior to virtual worlds, "Thereal voyage of discovery is not in seekingnew landscapes, but in having new eyesiii."(Proust, 1993)But just because many of these studentswere born in the X or Y generation does notmean that they are proficient with thattechnology nor are they necessarilyindependent learners, ready to set out onjourneys of their own. Familiarity with thetechnology does not imply that every studentis a gamer or that she or he is proficient inthe use of virtual worlds. Fig. 1. Virtual Guide example from the Mars Expeditions Learning CenterIn training and course development, thequest is to identify a learning and feedback An early example of the use of virtualmodel that will provide asynchronous and guides in virtual worlds includes the Marssynchronous support for technologically Expedition Strategy Challenges Learningsophisticated students given their disparate Center guide, who greets visitors and givespreferences, aptitudes, and skill levels. them a guided tour. During the tour, he walks around the center and shares theVirtual Guides information via text chat. The guide wears a NASA flight suit and a white cowboy hatOne of the challenges in online education is (see Fig. 1).to shift the intimacy and quality of learningexperienced in the face-to-face classroom to Visitors hear a female guides instructions asan online learning environment through the they board the rocket to begin their journey.use of voice, text, and visual communication Earlier versions of the Mars Challengetools that support the meeting of minds as included a prototype of HAL on board theparticipants share ideas, demonstrate their Red Lion Deep Space Explorer to exploreunderstanding, and interact with the course the use of humor in these interactions.content. We All Learn DifferentlyVirtual Guides provide support as they offerinformation, interaction, and feedback Students have different styles of learningduring the learning process. As a learning requiring different approaches to help themguide, they serve as a source of information master the requisite knowledge, skills, andand support learners with diverse needs that abilities (KSA) for learning and retention inextend beyond auditory/text, visual/spatial, a multitude of disciplines (i.e. art, history,and kinesthetic information to gain a balance math, science, etc.).
  3. 3. A point that immersive training shares in Student motivation varies depending uponcommon with traditional classroom the level of 3D intuitive design, pasteducation is that people learn differently. experience/familiarity with the environment,Information needs to be presented in and motivational incentives for learning.increasing levels of detail and complexitycoupled with activities and opportunities for Serious games, on the other hand, tend tointeraction to promote comprehension and provide more of a structured path withskill development. choices at key decision points along the road. A student’s choices may decideSome students prefer to LEARN the theory success or failure with decisions at one pointbehind the lesson first to intellectually influencing other aspects of the game play atunderstand what is being taught and why it another point. While this provides ais significant knowledge for them to know. somewhat more guided approach, it may feel a bit constrained for some students whoOthers prefer to EXPLORE the training wish to do things differently than theinteractively with guided walkthroughs that multiple choices presented within theteach the concepts and skills. This helps serious game.them to identify how to apply the knowledgewith skills that they have learned in the In her book “Reality is Broken: why gamesconstruction of new knowledge. make us better and how they can change theOthers need to PRACTICE the lesson both world,"v Jane McGonigal shares the fourthrough applied learning activities, such as defining traits that all games share: (1) aquizzes, and through simulations, to assess goal; (2) rules; (3) a feedback system; andtheir abilities and comprehension. (4) voluntary participation. The goal is the focus of the player’s attention and serves asBy blending theory, exploration, and skill a sense of purpose that orients theirdevelopment through applied learning, participation throughout the game.students can more effectively learn and Meanwhile the rules place limitations on theretain the course material. way that players can achieve that goal, often causing players to have to think moreLearning through Virtual Worlds and creatively to find solutions. The feedbackSerious Games system provides a method for the player to know how close they are to the goal. AndVirtual worlds provide an environment with voluntary participation requires the playerboth benefits and challenges to the learning to take ownership of the goal, the rules, andprocess. By students freely choosing their feedback while also establishing a commonown paths, they take more ownership for ground for multiplayer interactions and thetheir end results. ability for the player to leave the game and resume play at a later time.But while they can lose themselves for hoursin such immersive spaces without noticing A Hybrid Approachthe passing of time, that may not be the mosteffective use of their time. And as PBS Through combining aspects of virtualpointed out in their episode of FRONTLINE worlds and serious games together, weentitled “Digital Nation: life on the virtual discover a hybrid approach to immersivefrontier"iv, such immersive activity can learning with a Virtual Guide that helpsbecome quite addictive for some. students down the path of learning while
  4. 4. still allowing them freedom to make their The skill levels can be assessed using aown choices within a virtual environment. baseline assessment series of questions developed with Subject Matter ExpertsThis Virtual Guide serves as a sensei and (SMEs) on the training topic. This could becan come in many forms and behaviors. provided to the students in simple webFirst it may be a scripted, artificially forms at the start of their first game tointelligent character that resembles a identify their game level, and then thehumanoid avatar or has a different somatic students would level up or down dependingrepresentation (such as an animal, a water upon their performance within the game.molecule, or a code fragment). Virtual Guides could be used in manySunTzu (shown in Fig. 2) is one example of forms: Non-Player Characters (NPCs),a virtual guide developed by Sonalysts for Heads-Up Displays (HUDs), automatedU.S. Joint Forces Command in the virtual avatars, and prim-based 3D bots. Someworld Second LifeTM as part of the Open examples include: NPCs in commercialVirtual Collaboration Environment games; Daden Limited’s Automated Avatars(OpenVCE). in Second LifeTMvi; Sonalysts use of a Medical Mentor in a HUD for the MEDATAR serious medical game (shown in Fig. 3); Staff Duty Office Moleno (A Virtual Tour Guide for Virtual Worldsvii) from the Institute for Creative Technologies in Second LifeTM; and various Second LifeTM 3D prim-based bot avatars, such as the Shop Assistantsviii from XD Fusion and Artificial Avatarsix from Etiq Praga. !!Fig. 2. Artificially intelligent agent SunTzuA Virtual Guide can also be driven by ahuman-in-the-loop who responds toinquiries and provides progress throughout Fig. 3. The MEDATAR serious medicalthe game or simulation in response to the game proof-of-concept with medical requirements. Instead of directing The space time travel game Journeymanthe students, they serve more as a guide Project 3: Legacy of Timex (1999) providesalong the path and interact differently a strong example of this concept. This gamedepending upon the student’s skill level has an interesting application of an Artificialwithin the game. Intelligence (AI) agent name Arthur, who’s embedded into the space suit’s HUD.
  5. 5. Arthur provides comical antics along with students feel like they have a real mentorhis knowledge to guide the player along a watching over them and helping them, whilejourney of exploration within the historic allowing them to train when is mostnarrative of the storyline, which is filled convenient for each of them. This also helpswith challenges to intrigue the player to find the school to better manage its trainingsolutions. Arthur also has a chattiness costs. Virtual Guides can be developed tosetting to customize his level of interaction understand and respond to the studentsand humor. After hours of play, Arthur cognitive and learning needs based on theirseems like a real life character and friend individual skill levels and to treat themthat journeys along the player’s side. differently depending on those things.What if that could be brought to training? Game designer Jesse Schell talked about aStudents could learn while having fun and similar concept with The Future of Virtualhave someone there with them to virtually Charactersxi where characters like Marioguide them along the path of knowledge. and Luigi from the Super Mario series of video games by NintendoTM wouldA Future with Virtual Guides that Know accompany people throughout their lives,You and How You Learn know how they learn, and what they need. Schell is a former Disney Imagineer,Personalization of the learning experience is professor at Carnegie Mellon University’sthe key to bringing greater utility to its Entertainment Technology Center, author ofapplication. While online learners like the the book The Art of Game Design: A Bookflexibility of asynchronous training, which of Lensesxii, and designer of The Mummyallows students to take training anytime and Online MMOG.xiiianywhere, they may feel lost with traditionalonline learning management systems and Future work is needed to characterizeprefer to interact with a live mentor. alternative feedback mechanisms for use in non-linear serious game development and toWhile synchronous training models the face- assess their benefits over current trainingto-face classroom interaction, it requires and course delivery methods. The use ofhaving the students meet at the same time or Virtual Guides in non-linear, quest-basedproviding instructors 24/7 to provide enough games offers great potential for enhancinginstructors for students that are online. activity-based learning, competency, andThere are tradeoffs and costs associated with skill development to reach an audience ofeach of these methods. both the Digital Natives born in a digital world and the Digital Immigrants, who haveVirtual Guides can provide a more dynamic adapted to the digital world that has evolvedsolution with a blended approach where around them.NOTES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!i Virtual Intelligence, MODSIM World Canada 2010: !Prensky, M. (2001). Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. From On the Horizon. MCBuniversity Press, 9:5, October 2001. Retrieved December 29, 2011, from
  6. 6. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!,%20digital%20immigrants%20-%20part1.pdf!iii !Proust, M. (1993). In Search of Lost Time, Vol. V: The Captive. The Fugitive. Modern Library,Random House: New York.!iv Frontline: life on the virtual frontier: McGonigal, Jane (2011). Reality is Broken: Why games make use better and how they canchange the world: http://realityisbroken.orgvi Daden Limited’s Automated Avatars: Jan, Dusan; Roque, Antonio; Leuski, Anton; Morie, Jacki; and Traum, David (2009). AVirtual Tour Guide for Virtual Worlds. Institute for Creative Technologies, Marina del Ray,CA.: Shop Assistants from XD Fusion: http://xdfusion.wordpress.comix Artificial Avatars: Journeyman Project 3: Legacy of Time (2009): The Future of Virtual Characters: Schell, Jesse (2008). The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses. http://artofgamedesign.comxiii The Mummy Online MMOG: