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Research Regarding the use of a 3D Online Learning Environment

3D Online Learning Environment

CRG’s 3D online learning environment creates safe and controlled online computer-based 3D virtual environments supporting online learning, distance education, situated learning, and small group interactions.

Our technology is designed to function well for education, 3D info-browsers, architectural walk-through, museums, gaming, and business applications. The system is used successfully in university course delivery. The four primary design rules which guide all development are: modular, expandable, scalable, and efficient.

CRG’s mission is to develop software that promotes distributed learning through the combination of visualization systems, virtual communities, telementoring, and multi-user 3D online learning environments. These emerging technologies support learning by distributing interaction and feedback across time and space via interactive forms of multimedia. Teaching and learning relationships are no longer confined by space, but are defined by connectivity. Created Realities Group, since 2002, has provided 3D virtual environments that integrate voice, collaborative tools, and presence that promote both formal and informal learning.

An immersive environment promotes interactions and engages both the instructor and student in a way that audio/video conferencing or delayed communications through e-mail and conferences have trouble attaining. By creating the reality and integrating the tools into a single design, the user can focus on one interface instead of having to interact with several. For the instructor this single environment provides similar cues as video conference technology while providing all the necessary tools for instruction.

The ability to control access to an environment allows for the creation of safe and secure spaces that can focus on the needs of the designed use (learning, discussion, meetings, etc).

The VXInteractive™ client provides the following functionality:

Flexible Architecture

The CRG VXInteractive™ client, java-based graphical display engine, is built on the OpenGL specification which optimizes functionality and ensures easy portability to all platforms later. The current display engine works under Windows XP, Windows w2k, or Macintosh OSX.

Thin and Broadband Support

The CRG client can support both thin-client and broadband connectivity. This is possible because of the compressive nature of 3D objects and techniques used by CRG to order and control information flow between client and server. Once the information to create the context or environment is streamed and cached by the user's computer, the remaining bandwidth can be used to stream other functionality like audio, overheads, chat, etc.

The client supports users connected from dial-up modem to broadband. The bandwidth used depends on the materials being streamed. A basic system that includes 3D environment, overheads, e-mail, conferences, audio, and chat can be supported on a 28.8Kbps dial-up connection. If a service requires streaming video or other higher-bandwidth services, then the connection to the user will also need to reflect those requirements.

Integrated User Interface

The client provides both 3D and 2D graphical user interfaces. This allows the user to be immersed in the interface without having to leave the environment to deal with items requiring 2D representation.

Scripting Interface

The client supports basic scripting functionality to allow it to be customized to support asynchronous interactions or synchronous group interactions.

Research Support

The system has been designed to support the collection of data to support research. The system can be configured to save out information as required by the research project or researcher. Audit trails, use data, and conversations (text and audio) can be saved for later analysis. Real-time graphs and tables are available to site administrators.

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