Guidelines for Learning : Using 3D Interactive Systems for Education and Training


  • Damian Schofield State University of New York (SUNY)


learning, virtual reality, training, education, guidelines


Advanced 3D virtual environment technology, similar to that used by the film and computer games industry can allow educational developers to rapidly create realistic 3D, virtual environments. This technology has been used to generate a range of interactive learning environments across a broad spectrum of industries and educational application areas.

Virtual Reality (VR) simulators represent a powerful tool for learning and teaching. The idea is not new. Flight simulators have been used for decades to train pilots for both commercial and military aviation. These systems have advanced to a point that they are integral to both the design and the operation of modern aircraft [1, 2]. There are a number of lessons that can be learned from other industries that have successfully utilised virtual training and learning systems for a number of years. Generic rules of thumb regarding the specification, development, application and operation of these learning environments can be garnered from other industrial training systems and examined in an educational context [3, 4, 5].

This paper will introduce a virtual learning environment which has been developed by the authors. During the implementation of this, and other, visual learning environments a number of complex operational problems have been encountered, these have required a number of innovative solutions and management procedures to be developed.

The paper will also discuss the implementation of these systems and extrapolate the lessons learnt into general guidelines to be considered for the development of VR based educational learning resources. These guidelines will then be discussed in the context of the development of ViRILE (Virtual Reality Interactive Learning Environment). This software is designed for use by undergraduate chemical engineers and simulates the configuration and operation of a polymerisation plant.


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Author Biography

Damian Schofield, State University of New York (SUNY)

Dr. Schofield is currently Director of Human Computer Interaction at the State University of New York (SUNY). Prior to this Dr. Schofield was the Associate Professor of Computer Games and Digital Media, in the School of Creative Media at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia. Before his move out to Australia, he was on the management team of the prestigious Mixed Reality Lab at the University of Nottingham, UK. While working in the UK, Dr. Schofield was also on the management boards of both the Visual Learning Lab (a HEFCE centre of excellence) and the Learning Sciences Research Institute (LSRI).


Dr. Schofield also remains a director and major shareholder of Aims Solutions Ltd., a UK based company created in 2000, to provide computer graphics visualisation services and virtual reality based simulation training products to a wide range of public and private sector organisations.


Dr. Schofield has been involved in research examining the use of digital evidence in courtrooms, particularly virtual reconstructions, for many years. He is specifically interested in the representation and understanding of visual evidentiary information in the courtroom environment. Much of this academic research in the forensic area has concentrated on the investigation of the prejudicial effect of digital evidence, validation and verification procedures, admissibility of digital evidence and the mathematical uncertainty concerned with digital evidence.