Jelfs, Anne and Whitelock, Denise
The notion of presence in virtual learning environments: what makes the environment "real".
British Journal of Educational Technology, 31(2)
To know where they are in the environment, humans rely on their senses for information. If the environment is artificially generated then it raises the question as to what information is needed to allow humans to know their location in the environment and have a more tacit feeling of presence within it. This paper looks at the role of Virtual Environments as conceptual learning tools in Science and the notion of "Presence" within these types of environments. Presence in this context is based on the stream of sensory input, organized by our perceiving systems, and out of which emerges our sense of being in and of the world. This feeling is also engendered by our ability to affect the world through touch, gesture, voice etc. These are very private actions and to research this we conducted interviews with competent computer users about their feelings of "presence" when using virtual environments. One of the main findings has been that audio feedback is perceived to be one of the most important features that engender a sense of presence. We have also found that ease of navigation around the environment affects perceptions of presence and this is reflected to some extent with users' personal experience.
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