Virtual Campus of NTNU as a place for 3D Educational Visualizations


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This paper focuses on two case studies conducted in a Virtual Campus of Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). In these case studies the Virtual Campus acted as a venue for guest lectures and as a place for collaborative 3D educational visualizations and cross-cultural interaction. The data collected during the studies is analyzed to explore the technological, social and other issues using virtual worlds in educational settings, focusing on visualization of educational content. The paper concludes with some recommendations for future development of the Virtual Campus.

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  • Good afternoon! My name is Mikhail Fominykh. I am a PhD-candidate at NTNU. I am working on the area of learning with 3D virtual environments. So now I’d like to present you our paper “ Virtual Campus of NTNU as a place for 3D Educational Visualizations ” .
  • In this paper we talk about 3D virtual environments. At the moment we are working with the one called Second Life and I think most of you are familiar with this platform.
  • 3D virtual environments become very popular, in education in particular. The design of educational virtual environments often follows social constructivist approach , allowing learners to co-construct their environment and understanding. There are a number of reasons for choosing this technology for educational activities: 1. They allow people interacting in a way that conveys a sense of presence lacking in other media. 2. In addition, 3D visualization is a powerful tool for supporting understanding of complex models and concepts. 3. Another important motivation behind the choice of this technology is its potential for supporting cross-cultural understandings and collaboration .
  • Recently we have performed 2 case studies using virtual world Second Life. In both case studies we applied a constructionists approach. It considers that an effective way of learning is constructing artifacts. 1. In the first case study a group of students constructed one of the university main buildings . The students had a “Project work” course and learned a lot about how to work in a team. 2. After finishing the work, Norwegian students presented their construction for a visiting group of Australian students . After the presentation, a visiting professor gave a lecture in a virtual class.
  • In the second case study, “Cooperation Technology” students were asked to build a visualization representing a research area or a course taught at the University . The students were asked to consider how their constructions could be used in educational activities on the Virtual Campus and for promotion of NTNU. When the constructions were almost finished we organized a joint session inviting 2 groups of students from Australia and from Russia. The visitors were guided through the building sites and asked to give their comments and feedback .
  • Now I’d like to present the results of both case studies that we got from in-world observation. First, the results concerning constructions . 1.2. During the presentation, students got suggestions for improvement (mostly how to make the construction more interactive and fun ). 3. An important suggestion was made – to start ‘ rezing ’ objects on demand and ‘ de-rezing ’ not needed ones. ‘Rezing’ means making 3D objects appear in the world. 4. Since some of the constructions were recreations of real buildings, it was suggested to show there what is going on in real life , placing announcements and links to events.
  • Now the results concerning presentations . A big problem during the session was identifying who is saying what . Only the teachers were using voice chat. The presenters changed several times and sometimes became silent and as coordinators we had to supplement. This however unexpectedly led to some confusion among the guests. This confusion had increased every time we moved to the next construction. 2. Gathering people in the right place was also not an easy task. Analyzing chat log, we have found that it took up to 4 minutes. 3. And sometimes new presenters started before all the visitors got into their chat range that again led to confusions.
  • Technology concerning results. The Australian group was late to the joint session, because they had to upgrade the client. And during the presentation, there were some lag problems. Probably because we were too many.
  • In both case studies the students had a number of problems. During the second case study we got an idea of how we can solve some of their problems. We have identified the major needs for constructionists learning in 3D VEs : 1. Support for constructing processes 2. Support for presenting projects and awareness 3. Provision of a library of resources, an additional library of building resources. Based on that, we have designed a tool called Collaborative Virtual Workshop that has 3 major parts: Virtual workshop that provides support for constructing process with assisting tools, tutorials and a library of resources . ‘ Project gallery’ that is a virtual gallery or a museum that exhibits student constructions , like those they have built in our case studies. And finally - Virtual stage that is a place that should support presenting projects using ‘rezing’ and ‘de-rezing’ functions.
  • Based on this idea we conducted a questionnaire after the second case study. We asked the students to answer 4 questions. And I’d like to present some results that we got from this questionnaire .. Among the suggested activities in the Virtual Campus , the students prioritized virtual lectures . An activity that students were involved in – 3D visualization, constructing installations and sharing content – received an equal amount of positive and negative answers. 3. Other activities were less popular.
  • 1. Among the tools and facilities in the Virtual Campus a library with educational resources was considered the most necessary one. 2. Recreation of the main university building – a major landmark – was considered less important than recreation of departments . - - 5. What is also interesting is that Recreation of existing auditoriums was not supported at all, but abstract auditoriums with unrealistic features were a little bit more popular.
  • The third and forth questions were about the ‘Project gallery’. We gave the students a short description of its design. Generally, the proposal was considered useful and almost all the points got more positive votes than negative. When we asked how we should design this project gallery, the students prioritized an information place . However all the proposed roles were supported : a meeting place, a museum, a social place and a workshop.
  • When we asked what tools and facilities such a ‘Project gallery’ needs , the students again supported all the suggested options. The library of university related 3D objects , textures and templates for constructing was the most wanted feature. But also a creative and fun atmosphere , possibilities for learning more about projects and a virtual stage for presenting .
  • Now I’d like to present the major lessons learned for the Virtual Campus design. We structure the implications with 3 categories: Appearance, Structure and Role . 1. Appearance: The virtual campus of NTNU should have some realistic buildings to convey the spirit of the university, but at the same time it should be engaging, user-friendly and have unrealistic features where it is necessary for an enhanced and more efficient educational experience. (This appeared to be very difficult to keep the balance between these 2 points. We got some controversial feedbacks from the participants.) 2. The structure of the NTNU Virtual Campus should be well-organized for better access to the resources and facilities. At the same time the structure should also have flexibility to allow modifications. In is important also to keep the balance here. The rigid structure will not allow adjusting campus to current needs, while too much flexibility can cause some problems, for example with managing content and navigation. Realistic buildings and places should be better used for social activities and as representative areas. At the same time, there should be workplaces where educational activities can be conducted. 3. Role: The Virtual Campus should generally be an arena for working and learning. Various virtual places in the campus should play a number of secondary roles, such as providing support for specific educational or social activities, providing information about the university and so on.
  • 1. In this paper we present two case studies that were conducted in the Virtual Campus of NTNU in Second Life. The paper describes the settings and the results of these case studies. 2. Gathered empirical data allowed us to analyze how effective 3D virtual environments are for supporting educational visualizations . 3. Future work will include further development and extension of the Virtual Campus of NTNU. The major directions of the development will be recreation of several recognizable buildings of the physical campus and setting up facilities for lecturing and other educational activities. This includes in particular designing a Project gallery/CVW for supporting creation, demonstration, storing and retrieval of student projects.
  • Virtual Campus of NTNU as a place for 3D Educational Visualizations

    1. 1. Virtual Campus of NTNU as a place for 3D Educational Visualizations Ekaterina Prasolova-Førland and Mikhail Fominykh Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) Norway Theodor G. Wyeld Flinders University (FU) Australia 19.05.2010 AACE International Conference Global Learn Asia Pacific, Penang, Malaysia
    2. 2. 3D Virtual Environment Definition <ul><li>three dimensional, synchronous, persistent environment, facilitated by networked computers </li></ul>
    3. 3. 3D virtual environments in education <ul><li>Sense of presence </li></ul><ul><li>3D visualization </li></ul><ul><li>Potential for supporting cross-cultural understandings and collaboration </li></ul>
    4. 4. Virtual campus of NTNU Case study I <ul><li>Constructing a University building </li></ul><ul><li>Excursion and lecture </li></ul><ul><li>Assessment: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Observation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Project report </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Questionnaire </li></ul></ul>
    5. 5. Virtual campus of NTNU Case study I
    6. 6. Virtual campus of NTNU Case study I
    7. 7. Virtual campus of NTNU Case study I
    8. 8. Virtual campus of NTNU Case study II <ul><li>Building visualizations/constructions representing research areas and courses </li></ul><ul><li>Presenting constructions </li></ul><ul><li>Assessment: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Observation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Group essays </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Questionnaires </li></ul></ul>
    9. 9. Virtual campus of NTNU Case study II
    10. 10. Virtual campus of NTNU Case study II
    11. 11. Virtual campus of NTNU Case study II
    12. 12. Virtual campus of NTNU Case study II
    13. 13. Virtual campus of NTNU Case study II
    14. 14. Results from observation (1/3) <ul><li>Constructions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>More interactivity, more fun </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ Rezing’ and ‘de-rezing’ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Connection to reality </li></ul></ul>
    15. 15. Results from observation (2/3) <ul><li>Presentations </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Who is saying what? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Gathering people at the right place </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Being out of the next presenters’ chat range </li></ul></ul>
    16. 16. Results from observation (3/3) <ul><li>Technology </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Getting started </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Updating client </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Lag </li></ul></ul>
    17. 17. How to solve problems? <ul><li>Support for constructing processes </li></ul><ul><li>Support for presenting projects and awareness </li></ul><ul><li>Provision of a library of resources </li></ul><ul><li>Collaborative Virtual Workshop </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Virtual workshop </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ Project gallery’ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Virtual stage </li></ul></ul>
    18. 18. Results from questionnaires (1/4) <ul><li>Activities in the Virtual Campus </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Virtual lectures </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Constructing 3D </li></ul></ul>
    19. 19. Results from questionnaires (2/4) <ul><li>Tools and facilities in the Virtual Campus </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A library with educational resources </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Departments, not landmark buildings </li></ul></ul>
    20. 20. Results from questionnaires (3/4) <ul><li>Information place </li></ul><ul><li>All proposed roles </li></ul>
    21. 21. Results from questionnaires (4/4) <ul><li>Library of university related resources </li></ul><ul><li>All suggested features </li></ul>
    22. 22. Virtual Campus implications <ul><li>Appearance </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Realistic buildings to convey the atmosphere </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Engaging, user-friendly and unrealistic features </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Structure </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Organization vs. flexibility </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Realistic designs and workplaces </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Role </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Arena for working and learning </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Support for specific educational or social activities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Information about the university </li></ul></ul>
    23. 23. Conclusion <ul><li>Case studies results </li></ul><ul><li>Analysis of using virtual worlds for 3D educational visualizations </li></ul><ul><li>Future work </li></ul><ul><ul><li>recreating recognizable buildings </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>setting up better facilities for lecturing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>designing a Project gallery/CVW </li></ul></ul>
    24. 24. Thank you! Ekaterina Prasolova-Førland and Mikhail Fominykh NTNU, Norway E-mails: [email_address] Slides: Second Life: [email_address]