Content development for XR-based learning
Extended reality (XR) can open new doors for students and teachers, particularly as learning has gone virtual due to COVID-19 and flexibility is needed.
- Extended reality (XR) can help educators reach students in a virtual classroom.
- XR’s ability to be used in a variety of locations gives it added flexibility.
- The engaging 3D elements and ability to interact, manipulate and review content using various VARK methodologies is key to successful learning.
The need for relevant content that can stimulate the immersive learning experience has become an essential element within the educational landscape (Bucea-Manea-Țoniş et al., 2020; Zhang et al., 2020; Kubit, 2021). Virtual classes rival physical environments, due to the ability of a virtual class to provide continuity through necessary remote accessibility due to disruptions (as with COVID-19) (Rameshwar, 2020). This interactive medium encourages bi-directional (teacher-student) participation and customisation of lessons that can be adapted to each student’s needs and abilities (Rameshwar, 2021). Industry 4.0 and extended reality (XR) can help educators realize their potential and make them useful for virtual classes.
Familiar software tools as word processing, presentation, image editing and video compilation have always been used to create visual elements that augment the educator’s physical actions in the classroom. Transitioning to the online environment means a loss of the dynamic engagement created by the presence of an enthusiastic and caring teacher at the head of the class.
The virtualized classroom should provide high fidelity interactive elements that stimulate students. The problem is that standard tools used are not easy to develop these types of assets. The focus should be on educational development and not on graphics (and/or video) design or editing. A platform that enables anyone, regardless of their creative competence to produce material based upon their curriculum becomes essential.
The platform’s ability to be used on a desktop or mobile device, including the ultra-portable and ubiquitous cell phone encourages continuous engagement in a variety of situations and locations from structured (scheduled classes) to on-site (industry plant) to ad-hoc (standing in line at the grocery).
The EON-XR development environment from eon reality is intuitive and allows an educator to create lessons as an audio and/or visual segment for various graphical elements.
Therefore, students can be provided with additional explanations to compliment an overview of a topic or specific details on part of an equipment (such as a short voice note by the teacher highlighting an important aspect of the tool or the use of a video clip that demonstrates the operation of the tool).
Pre-curated 3D assets and manipulation tools facilitate easy development of physical world interactions (Figure 2) (such as “X-Ray” to view internal components, “exploded view” to remove elements and focus on a particular one and “animation” to operate components of the equipment).
Developing content involves finding appropriate 3D assets to use. In circumstances where 3D assets are not available, a 360-degree photo provides an alternative (Figure 3). Though the 3D platform has greater object manipulation than the 360-degree photo, the latter provides a photorealism that may be difficult to duplicate in the 3D environment (or at least requires specialized skill, time and cost to create), whereas the photo requires a camera and 360-degree stitching software. The identification and selection of appropriate visual elements require the educator to “evaluate existing resources” or “find new resources.”
This process could become time-consuming, especially if copyrights prohibit their use and “alternate resources” are needed (Figure 4). Proper lesson planning involves the ability to test the various design iterations for user experience, before making the course publicly available to all students. This feature is facilitated through the private share link in the platform.
The engaging 3D elements and ability to interact, manipulate and review content using various visual, aural, read/write and kinesthetic (VARK) methodologies is key to successful learning. Teachers are provided with high fidelity graphical images (via the asset library) as well as options to create text to speech memos that satisfy the visual and aural components of VARK, respectively.
Kinesthetic is achieved by using the “build” function to re-create the original system layout from its various components. Read/write can be achieved through a combination of “quiz” and assigning students to create their own course.
The use of the “quiz” function reinforces key lesson points, as even though a wrong answer is selected, the system still generates the correct response as part of the reinforcement.
This low-code and no-code (Johannessen, 2021) development environment can give students the ability to create their own lessons to reinforce the learning cycle and make them accountable as well as understanding the developmental teaching requirements.
Students are able to experience the full range of learning environments on an XR platform (Jaksic, 2018), where one lesson can satisfy different types of learners.
Jason Robert Rameshwar, M.Sc., the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad & Tobago. Edited by Chris Vavra, web content manager, Control Engineering, CFE Media and Technology, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keywords: education, STEM, extended reality (XR)
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