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Enhancing learning in distributed virtual worlds through touch: a browser-based architecture for haptic interaction

Arnab, S., Petridis, P., Dunwell, I. and de Freitas, S. (2011) Enhancing learning in distributed virtual worlds through touch: a browser-based architecture for haptic interaction. In: Ma, M., Oikonomou, A. and Jain, L.C., (eds.) Serious Games and Edutainment Applications. Springer-Verlag, London, UK, pp. 149-167.

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As technology evolves to support an increasingly diverse range of pedagogic approaches, various kinds of technology-driven interventions have already been integrated into conventional teaching methods, which include web-based tools and mobile devices, social networking environments and computer games. Such integration is capable of providing platforms to support formal and informal learning experiences, in both blended and standalone contexts. Innovations in teaching and learning, promoting a knowledge society, and supporting tremendous growth in demand for highly educated and skilled individuals, are influenced by the advances in technology as well as the emergence of a new generation for whom technology is an integral part of the learning process. This generation is able to migrate between existing and new technologies, building socially driven communities, and has high expectations of fidelity and dynamics from virtual learning environments.

However, as well as providing support for this fidelity, it is important to consider the pedagogic models that underpin innovative, technology-enhanced learning techniques. In order to increase and sustain engagement and receptiveness of the learner and to ensure effective learning outcomes, immersive learning facilitates the complete involvement of learners in their learning environment, harnessing techniques of exploration to enhance understanding of particular subjects. Whereas an encyclopaedic approach for understanding the characteristics of an ancient artefact requires a degree of intrinsic motivation on the part of the learner, examining and exploring the artefact first-hand via visual, social or tactile interaction can prove a more compelling and engaging experience, reaching wider student audiences more effectively.

Supporting experiential and exploratory models of learning, this chapter describes a method to combine different sensory elements of an immersive experience, to create an engaging and immersive multimodal approach to learning. By introducing tactile interfaces with visual and social, it is envisaged that learner perceptions will be more immersed and the gap between virtual and real spaces will be bridged by deeper involvement of the learner. By stimulating visual and tactile perceptions, real learning experiences may be more accurately replicated in a virtual world.

Item Type: Book Chapter
Publisher: Springer-Verlag
Copyright: © Springer-Verlag 2011.
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