06 SES 04, New Approaches to Learning Analytics
As Virtual Reality becomes more and more accessible both as a ‘space’ to visit, explore and navigate and as a technology ‘tool’ to create spatial experiences, the construction of synthetic digital contexts that promote interaction becomes a creative design process. Virtual Reality worlds tend to excite our fantasy and to encourage alternative potentialities for navigation, exploration and interplay amongst varied entities. However, one pressing question relates to what might be the prerequisites for the design of sensible experiences that involve the synesthesia of immersion, interaction and imagination –known as the 3i of VR. The present paper aims to discuss such design issues for the construction of a virtual reality space that could be used by children in the early ages (5-9 year olds). Our discussion around design issues is based on our research experience with the construction of a small scale desktop VR environment that addresses a virtual narrative of the ‘disappearance’ of animals from a zoo and the efforts to rescue them (the VR narrative can be found at the http://vr.arch.uth.gr/VR-Arch/02_VR_Intro/index.html).
Taking into account the above, we have constructed a VR environment that encourages young children and adults a) to experience spatial navigation in a zoo where animals live, b) to immerse in an interactive narrative where the animals get disappeared from their home, and c) to accomplish certain ‘missions’ for rescuing them. The design process aims to bring children in touch with playful and game-like experiences that either directly or tacitly induce them to information and material related to the animals and their lives. The whole synthesis has been held on an improvised narrative based on a series of prior versions like the ‘the farm of planets’ and ‘animals in space’ where all have been inspired by the flatland of Edwin Abbott, or the Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carol. Besides the paradoxes submerged in those stories, children are drawn into ‘imagining’ and ‘living through’ such utopias as if they were true. It has been argued by some VR theorists that the above elements create the dramatic experience of ‘being here’ or make ‘believe’ (Brooks, 2003, Biocca, 2001). We could argue -based on our experience of applying our VR space with children- how experiences of virtual reality become not only a contemporary methodology of relating and communicating with digital spatial information, but also a way of ‘living’ reality –a reality that is inscribed at the boundaries amongst physical and virtual experiences. The empirical experience in VR is related a) with an embodied experience mediated by advanced technology, and b) with a virtual sense of relating to the physical context mediated by the immaterial VR space. In both cases, even though the human subject (child or adult is not directly in relation to the physical real context, he or she meets the experience as both a bodily and cognitive interaction (Heim, 1993, 1998).
Eco, U. (1984). Semiotics and the Philosophy of Language. Bloomington. Indiana University Press Deleuze, G. and Guatarri, F. (1999). A Thousand Plateaus¨Capitalism & Schizophrenia. London. The Athlone Press. Heim, M. (1993) The Metaphysics of Virtual Reality Oxford University Press. Heim, M. (1998) Virtual Realism, Oxford University Press, New York. Kalawsky, R.(1993) The Science of Virtual Reality and Virtual Environments. Lanier, J. (1990) "Using Virtual Reality As A Tool To Study The Relationship Between Human Beings And Physical Reality", In Human Machine Interfaces For Teleoperators And Virtual Environments, Nasa Conference Publication 10071
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