Publication details

Collaborative and individual learning of geography in immersive virtual reality : An effectiveness study



Year of publication 2022
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source PLoS One
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Keywords virtual reality; virtual environment; immersion; collaborative learning; head-mounted display; human-computer interaction; cognitive resource; hypsography
Description Many university-taught courses moved to online form since the outbreak of the global pandemic of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Distance learning has become broadly used as a result of the widely applied lockdowns, however, many students lack personal contact in the learning process. A classical web-based distance learning does not provide means for natural interpersonal interaction. The technology of immersive virtual reality (iVR) may mitigate this problem. Current research has been aimed mainly at specific instances of collaborative immersive virtual environment (CIVE) applications for learning. The fields utilizing iVR for knowledge construction and skills training with the use of spatial visualizations show promising results. The objective of this study was to assess the effectiveness of collaborative and individual use of iVR for learning geography, specifically training in hypsography. Furthermore, the study’s goals were to determine whether collaborative learning would be more effective and to investigate the key elements in which collaborative and individual learning were expected to differ–motivation and use of cognitive resources. The CIVE application developed at Masaryk University was utilized to train 80 participants in inferring conclusions from cartographic visualizations. The collaborative and individual experimental group underwent a research procedure consisting of a pretest, training in iVR, posttest, and questionnaires. A statistical comparison between the geography pretest and posttest for the individual learning showed a significant increase in the score (p = 0.024, ES = 0.128) and speed (p = 0.027, ES = 0.123), while for the collaborative learning, there was a significant increase in the score (p<0.001, ES = 0.333) but not in speed (p = 1.000, ES = 0.000). Thus, iVR as a medium proved to be an effective tool for learning geography. However, comparing the collaborative and individual learning showed no significant difference in the learning gain (p = 0.303, ES = 0.115), speed gain (p = 0.098, ES = 0.185), or performance motivation (p = 0.368, ES = 0.101). Nevertheless, the collaborative learning group had significantly higher use of cognitive resources (p = 0.046, ES = 0.223) than the individual learning group. The results were discussed in relation to the cognitive load theories, and future research directions for iVR learning were proposed.

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