Designing navigation and wayfinding in 3D virtual learning spaces

Minocha, Shailey and Hardy, Christopher Leslie (2011). Designing navigation and wayfinding in 3D virtual learning spaces. In: OzCHI 2011 Design, Culture and Interaction, 28 Nov - 02 Dec 2011, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia, pp. 211–220.




As the use of virtual worlds in education continues to grow, it is important that designers and educators consider the interaction design and usability of three-dimensional (3D) virtual learning spaces as being integral to student learning and engagement. In a previous project on the design of learning spaces in virtual worlds, we uncovered that difficulties with navigation and wayfinding are the key usability problems that impact on the student experience. Second Life is the most commonly used virtual world for educational purposes. Based upon empirical investigations in Second Life, we have derived heuristics and guidelines for the design of 3D virtual learning spaces to facilitate navigation and wayfinding. Qualitative data arising from heuristic evaluations and user observations enabled a variety of navigational aids to be assessed for their suitability in designs of 3D virtual learning spaces. We have also derived best practice examples for navigational aids such as maps, signs, paths and landmarks.

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