Development of an Immersive Environment to Teach Problem Oriented Engineering

Moore, Andrew John (2009). Development of an Immersive Environment to Teach Problem Oriented Engineering. Student dissertation for The Open University module M801 MSc in Software Development Research Dissertation.

Please note that this student dissertation is made available in the format that it was submitted for examination, thus the author has not been able to correct errors and/or departures from academic standards in areas such as referencing.



In this thesis I explore current trends in computer based learning, and evaluate the application of existing multimedia design principles to 3-D environments or MUVEs, which are becoming increasingly popular for the possibilities they present for situated learning opportunities. I look into how methods of learning in computer mediated environments have changed, and how this has led to a set of cognitive learning based design principles. I use the design principles I have identified, and apply them to the development of a learning environment, to teach the basic principles of Problem Oriented Engineering. Using student tracking within the environment I create, together with post experience student questionnaires, I assess the value of the principles used. I find that multimedia design principles have some value in the design of a Second Life learning environment, for Problem Oriented Engineering. There is however evidence both from my own research, and from that of Minocha and Reeves (Minocha & Reeves, 2009) that Second Life users, like computer gamers becoming familiar with a new game, expect more from an environment as they become more experienced. In particular the design guidelines identified do not address the issues of immersion or how to design interactions within a 3-D environment. As a result further work is required to build on the multimedia design principles, to help inform the design of 3D virtual world learning spaces.

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