The impact of multimodal collaborative virtual environments on learning: A gamified online debate

Doumanis, Ioannis orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-4898-7209, Economou, Daphne, Sim, Gavin Robert orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-9713-9388 and Porter, Stuart (2019) The impact of multimodal collaborative virtual environments on learning: A gamified online debate. Computers & Education, 130 . 121 - 138. ISSN 0360-1315

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Online learning platforms are integrated systems designed to provide students and teachers with information, tools and resources to facilitate and enhance the delivery and management of learning. In recent years platform designers have introduced gamification and multimodal interaction as ways to make online courses more engaging and immersive. Current Web-based platforms provide a limited degree of immersion in learning experiences, thereby diminishing potential learning impact. To improve immersion, it is necessary to stimulate some or all the human senses by engaging users in an environment that perceptually surrounds them and allows intuitive and rich interaction with other users and its content. Learning in these collaborative virtual environments (CVEs) can be aided by increasing motivation and engagement through the gamification of the educational task. This rich interaction that combines multimodal stimulation and gamification of the learning experience has the potential to draw students into the learning experience and improve learning outcomes. This paper presents the results of an experimental study designed to evaluate the impact of multimodal real-time interaction on user experience and learning of gamified educational tasks completed in a CVE. Secondary school teachers and students participated in the study. The multimodal CVE is an accurate reconstruction of the European Parliament in Brussels, developed using the REVERIE (Real and Virtual Engagement In Realistic Immersive Environment) framework. In the study, we compared the impact of the VR parliament to a non-multimodal control (an educational platform called Edu-Simulation) for the same educational tasks. Our results show that the multimodal CVE improves student learning performance and aspects of subjective experience when compared to the non-multimodal control. More specifically it resulted in a more positive effect on the ability of the students to generate ideas compared to a non-multimodal control. It also facilitated a sense of presence (strong emotional and a degree of spatial) for students in the VE. The paper concludes with a discussion of future work that focusses on combining the best features of both systems in a hybrid system to increase its educational impact and evaluate the prototype in real-world educational scenarios.

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