Facilitating socially constructed learning through a shared, mobile-based virtual reality platform in informal learning settings

Facilitating socially constructed learning through a shared, mobile-based virtual reality platform in informal learning settings
  • This is an abstract from our recent grant that got awarded by NSF (NSF #2119011). The summary, proposal, and references are available here (Downnload).

Sang Won Lee (Principal Investigator)
Myounghoon Jeon (Co-Principal Investigator)
Jeffrey Ogle (Co-Principal Investigator)
Phyllis Newbill (Co-Principal Investigator)
Chelsea Lyles (Co-Principal Investigator)

Virtual reality (VR) technologies have great potential in STEM education because they provide immersive learning experiences that one cannot have in the real world. However, interactivity using VR head-mounted displays is often a solitary experience, isolating learners from the social and learning context. This makes it challenging to learn through collaborations with peers and instructors. Furthermore, many learners are excluded from using virtual reality headsets, including children, those who wear glasses, and those vulnerable to health concerns such as motion sickness, nausea, and falling. The project will develop and deploy a mobile-device-based VR platform to enable social learning. The project partners with the Science Museum of Western Virginia, the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology(ICAT), and the Center for Educational Networks and Impacts(CENI) at Virginia Tech to support socially constructed, informal STEM learning for their wide range of visitors, including young children with family members, college students, and local K-12 school students.

The project’s overarching objective is to design, develop, and deploy an inclusive, socially connected virtual reality platform and educational content. With the system, museum attendees can collectively interact with STEM topics in virtual reality. The system will use social virtual reality to allow multiple learners to engage with the learning material, the instructor, and one another via and beyond motion-tracked mobile devices. A shared physical space with the mobile-based virtual reality platform will grant a diverse range of learners access to immersive STEM learning content and their peers beyond the screen. The researchers will study how the shared display technology facilitates socially constructed learning and enables novel active learning techniques in informal learning settings. The results will advance understanding of integrating virtual reality into inclusive settings and promoting collaborative learning with VR to enhance learning outcomes.

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