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Salena Burke

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  • Writer's pictureSalena Burke

Designing an Alternative Immersive Experience in Learning Environments

Design can influence the definition and use of virtual artifacts designed in learning environments. Technology affords design to create an alternative experience in learning environments because technological artifacts engage the senses to create a visceral experience. Experience herein is defined as the emotional response of human senses: sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste. Studies show that the remaining senses are heightened when senses are impaired, so people with impaired senses can still experience them.

Immersive technology, Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), mixed Reality (MR), and extended reality (XR) create a visceral experience because it provides a sense of presence by amplifying the sensorial experience of individuals. A study was performed on 98 fourth graders to determine the benefits of Virtual Reality in teaching history; it concluded a "statistically significant difference in favor of students who used virtual reality, both in motivation and in academic performance." Virtual Reality can create an immersive experience that traditional classrooms cannot duplicate. Despite other technologies that provide a practical experience, Augmented Reality has been shown to have a better realistic and practical experience that offers learners a visceral experience.

Technological artifacts engage the sense to create a visceral experience which creates an alternative experience in learning environments. In a case study on two virtual experiences, a building evacuation and an emergency trolley shock room, both scenarios reported high satisfaction with the virtual experience[1]. The study utilized technology that proved to show positive results. Participants could experience complex scenarios in a virtual environment, but the scenarios were replaced in the virtual world. While the project met learning objectives, Sebastian et al. suggested more research on scent creation and human-to-human interaction [2] is needed. The objective of virtual spaces is to replicate that interaction with avatar-to-avatar interactions, but further research is necessary to compare the virtual outcomes. The study resulted in positive feedback because virtual objects' availability was higher than obtaining expensive equipment for training [3]. The virtual scenarios were cost-effective because the scenarios could be repeated without exhausting resources. The virtual training was more comprehensive because performance assessment was obtainable, and real-world obstacles were prevented. The participants engaged virtual objects to create visceral experiences, and the training that created life-like experiences for the participants was used to create learning experiences for students.

The use of virtual artifacts in learning environments has many advantages, including cost-effectiveness, flexibility, and the ability to create immersive experiences for learners. Virtual environments allow for the creation of complex scenarios that would be difficult or impossible to replicate in the real world, such as emergency situations or hazardous environments. These virtual scenarios can be repeated and modified easily, allowing for more comprehensive training and assessment of learners' performance. Additionally, virtual environments can be customized to meet the specific needs of learners, providing personalized learning experiences that cater to individual learning styles and preferences.

The way in which technological artifacts are designed can greatly influence how they are perceived and used by learners. Effective design can create an immersive and engaging experience that promotes learning and retention of information. By engaging multiple senses, virtual artifacts can provide learners with a more visceral experience that enhances their understanding and retention of concepts. However, poor design can lead to confusion, disengagement, and frustration, ultimately hindering the learning process. As such, designers of virtual learning environments must consider the ways in which their designs will be perceived and experienced by learners and strive to create designs that enhance and support the learning process. My research aims to discover how technological artifacts can influence learning environments and bring inclusion and equity into those environments.

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1 Egger-Lampl et al., “Work-in-Progress—EXtended Reality Training for Safety and Medical Procedures.”

2 Egger-Lampl et al. 3 Egger-Lampl et al.

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