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Piloting Mixed Reality in ICT Networking to Visualize Complex Theoretical Multi-Step Problems - A Presentation at ASCILITE 2016


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This paper presents insights from the implementation of a mixed reality intervention using 3d printed physical objects and a mobile augmented reality application in an ICT networking classroom. The intervention aims to assist student understanding of complex theoretical multi-step problems without a corresponding real world physical analog model. This is important because these concepts are difficult to conceptualise without a corresponding mental model. The simulation works by using physical models to represent networking equipment and allows learners to build a network that can then be simulated using a mobile app to observe underlying packet traversal and routing theory between the different devices as data travels from the source to the destination. Outcomes from usability testing show great student interest in the intervention and a feeling that it helped with clarity, but also demonstrated the need to scaffold the use of the intervention for students rather than providing a freeform experience in the classroom.

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Piloting Mixed Reality in ICT Networking to Visualize Complex Theoretical Multi-Step Problems - A Presentation at ASCILITE 2016

  1. 1. PILOTING MIXED REALITY IN ICT NETWORKING TO VISUALIZE COMPLEX THEORETICAL MULTI-STEP PROBLEMS Michael Cowling School of Engineering & Technology CQUniversity, Australia James Birt Faculty of Society and Design Bond University, Australia
  2. 2. Merging physical and virtual worlds through virtual reality, augmented reality, 3d printing & game technology
  3. 3. Introduction • Difficult to teach complex multi step processes - especially without a real world model (Tasker & Dalton, 2008) • ICT computer networking à traditional method uses abstract visualizations that don’t capture complexity leaving hidden concepts (Williamson et al., 2012) • E.g. the multi-step traversal of packets along the layers of the fundamental TCP/IP packet networking model TCP/IP Model
  4. 4. Pilot Study Rationale • Visualizations are positive learning support tools (Birt & Hovorka, 2014; Mayer, 2014; …) • Kinaesthetic tools better form mental models (Pass & Sweller, 2014) • Use 3D printing & AR simulation à assist with learning complex multi step problems • Evaluate effectiveness of mixed reality visualization technique in ICT networking & the learners understanding of TCP/IP packet flow
  5. 5. Research Methods • Action research (Kemmis, 2006) • First loop - usability test with six (6) users of the system (as per Nielsen, 2012 – HCI quality measures) • Students to assess against a set of measures developed from previous work (Birt & Horvaka, 2014) • Accessibility, Learnability, Efficiency, Satisfaction, Memorability, Error Free, Manipulability, Navigability, Visibility, Real world, Communication, Creativity, Engaging, Motivating “How does 3D printing and augmented reality assist ICT networking students in visualising complex multi-step processes?”
  6. 6. Experimental Design • Two-step process: • Physical component provided first to allow students to build a network (Bell, 2014) • Followed by an app that could be used to simulate network operations over the physical network that was built by students • Use 3D printed networking components that students physically assemble, visualise & manipulate using an app built with Unity3d & Vuforia
  7. 7. Results à Likert 1-5, (1):strongly disagree (5):strongly agree
  8. 8. Observations • [Learners] enjoyed diving in and asked if they could download [the app] to their own device and if the markers worked across multiple devices at the same time • [Learner] urgency resulted in problems … building large networks and then having difficulty visualising these networks using the app • [Memorability] was good … [Learners] were able to successfully use the tool to build networks and to visualise the TCP/IP model “[TCP/IP] was more clarified through this [simulation] and it’s good to work with such networking concepts. It gives user friendly interface, easy to interact and act upon it” ICT Student (2016)
  9. 9. Where to from here? • More loops in the current intervention development in ICT • Upgrades & Changes to the Simulation (markers, more scenarios etc) • Transition intervention into other disciplines • Visual Arts & Multimedia (e.g. web design) • Network Security • Empirical Evidence of Learning Outcomes • Learning Analytics through pre-test/post-test (e.g. Serious Game)