Exploring immersive virtual environments to facilitate internationalised student learning - a case study

Daniel Watson, Lizzie Miles, Katerina Pateraki

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding

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Abstract

There is a growing trend towards increasing internationalisation of engineering education. The sharing of different global perspectives is perceived to enhance engineering education and more fully equip graduates for professional practice. A global outlook is also viewed as an important part of a practicing engineers skill set, and is emphasised by many institutions as something that needs to be evidenced in order to achieve chartered status.

There are a number of challenges when trying to incorporate international cooperation in teaching activities. These include participants being in different time zones and differing pedagogical approaches. This poses the question, how can more internationalised engineering education be practically, and effectively, achieved?

The Humanitarian Engineering and Computing Group, at Coventry University, developed a range of immersive virtual learning environments (iVLEs) in Second Life. These iVLEs allow people to participate in lessons/workshops from any location where they have access to a PC with an internet connection (and the appropriate software installed). This potentially removes one of the barriers (namely not being in the same physical space) to international collaboration. How effectively the immersive virtual space aids communication and collaboration is investigated in this study.

One of these exercises was piloted on a number of occasions, including with students from a number of universities taking part simultaneously. Initial findings suggested a high level of satisfaction and comfort with communication in the environment. Despite not having previously known each other and having little experience of Second Life students were able to successfully participate in the exercise. The data gathered suggests this could be a useful tool for international collaboration between students.

This project involved a consortium of UK universities including University of Leeds, University of Liverpool, Middlesex University, Northumbria University and University of Nottingham led by Coventry University with funding from the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Keywords: immersive virtual worlds, Humanitarian Engineering and Computing, Online International Learning, internationalisation
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGlobal Research Community: Collaboration and Developments
EditorsErik de Graaff, Aida Guerra, Anette Kolmos, Nestor Arexolaleiba
Place of PublicationAalborg
PublisherAalborg Universitetsforlag
Pages456-467
Number of pages12
Volume5
ISBN (Electronic)978-87-7112-304-3
ISBN (Print)978-87-7112-304-3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2015
EventInternational Joint Conference on the Learner in Engineering Education - Mondragon Uniberstitatea, San Sebastian, Spain
Duration: 6 Jul 20159 Jul 2015

Conference

ConferenceInternational Joint Conference on the Learner in Engineering Education
Abbreviated titleIJCLEE 2015
CountrySpain
CitySan Sebastian
Period6/07/159/07/15

Bibliographical note

This paper was given at the 5th International Research Symposium on PBL (IRSPBL), part of the International Joint Conference on the Learner in Engineering Education (IJCLEE 2015). 6-9 July 2015 at Mondragon Uniberstitatea, San Sebastian, Spain. The full conference proceedings are available online at: http://vbn.aau.dk/en/publications/global-research-community%28ebd16326-9877-4265-8ae5-c512a9f8db8d%29.html

Keywords

  • immersive virtual worlds, Humanitarian Engineering and Computing, Online International Learning, internationalisation

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  • Cite this

    Watson, D., Miles, L., & Pateraki, K. (2015). Exploring immersive virtual environments to facilitate internationalised student learning - a case study. In E. D. Graaff, A. Guerra, A. Kolmos, & N. Arexolaleiba (Eds.), Global Research Community: Collaboration and Developments (Vol. 5, pp. 456-467). Aalborg: Aalborg Universitetsforlag.