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5 Benefit Evaluation with two Examples

We implemented two simple virtual science experiments to demonstrate the improvement. Figure 4(a) shows an analog circuit experiment that help students learn how to measure electrical quantities with a multimeter. In the virtual environment, a student is able to turn on the multimeter and twist the dial plate to a right setting with single hand operation. Then, the student drags both probes to connect to the resistor with two hands operation. If the setting and the connection is correct, the resistance value can be read from the screen of the multimeter. In the circuit experiment, all electronic components are listed in a virtual toolbox. Students are allowed to take out demanded objects from the toolbox, and make circuits in the space.

Figure 4(b) shows a virtual environment for implementing chemical experiments. Kinds of experiment equipments are placed on the table in the space, including beakers, test tubes, flasks, alcohol lamps, etc. Different chemicals can be found in virtual containers. The text descriptions of the chemical compositions are popped out if users put hands on them. The figure shows a user is holding a flask containing certain chemical liquid on his right hand and a breaker containing another chemical power on the left hand. He is pouring the liquid from the flask to the breaker to trigger certain chemical reaction. The shifting and moving of an object is fully controlled by one hand. The chemical reaction can be displayed in the form of color changes, animations, sound effects, etc, to give the user the feedback of his operations.

Fig. 4. Simple applications of the virtual learning systems. (a) Multimeter (b) chemical experiment.

6 Conclusion

The objective of this paper is to boost online teaching and learning efficiency as well as interests with modern computer science technologies, a 3D virtual learning system for STEM education. In the proposed system, students are able to carry out virtual STEM experiments with advanced hand gesture interface and VR environment. The theoretical reasoning and two examples above illustrate the improvement from current e-learning paradigms. Fully functioned online education systems that aim at particular grades and disciplines are urgently needed. Future research should focus on the usability study of the more applications for a better understanding of their benefits.

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