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3D Virtual Spaces Supporting Engineering Learning Activities

Jean-Pierre Gerval 1, 2 Dorin-Mircea Popovici F Hamza-Lup Ronan Querrec Mihai Polceanu 3 Norina Popovici R Zȃgan
3 Lab-STICC_ENIB_CID_IHSEV
Lab-STICC - Laboratoire des sciences et techniques de l'information, de la communication et de la connaissance
Abstract : Virtual environments constitute the support platform for various teaching and learning activities. Instead of a local application for this purpose, this paper explores the effects of using distributed virtual reality environments in the educational process. The architecture of the presented system is based on the recently developed web-based technology called AJAX (Asynchronous Javascript And XML), implemented on a Linux operating system configured to run Apache with PHP and MySQL support; i.e., LAMP architecture, which contributes to the portability and ease of installation of the application. The platform is designed to support the integration of lesson modules such as the EngView environment which is discussed in more detail in this contribution. Pedagogical, technical, and implementation-related aspects are presented in conjunction with the virtual environment used in the engineering training curriculum. Statistical information resulted from the training shows a significant increase in task completion time when the virtual setup is used. Knowledge acquisition has shifted from an individual to a collective activity. There is a migration of the learning process from one individual to a group of individuals as knowledge becomes a collective activity enhanced by the phenomena of social interaction. The complexity of the information and the way we interact with it makes us active parts in the educational environment. Searching, discovering, and testing are the most frequent human activities in such situations. When an interpretive level of comprehension is reached, these activities are mature enough to trigger creational thinking, and constitute the beginning of the applied level of understanding. As complements to learning, virtual training gives constructive feedback to learners by providing them with a hands-on approach to the studied subject. In the following sections, we emphasize the potential of distributed virtual environments to improve the learning process. To prove the point, we try to answer one question: "What do the 3D virtual spaces bring into the learning processes in order to make them effective and evolutionary?"
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Jean-Pierre Gerval, Dorin-Mircea Popovici, F Hamza-Lup, Ronan Querrec, Mihai Polceanu, et al.. 3D Virtual Spaces Supporting Engineering Learning Activities. International Journal of Computers, Communications & Control, 2009, IV, pp.401 - 414. ⟨hal-02998860⟩

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