Evaluation of virtual reality-based applications in education
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Interactive virtual reality (VR) applications are experiencing a great development nowadays. This development is supported by the constant emergence of virtual reality devices (HTC VIVE, Oculus Rift, etc.) that are becoming more robust and reliable. Currently, there are virtual reality applications for increasingly diverse fields, from VR games and movies to tutorials and virtual labs. The educational field is no exception, at present there are many VR applications that try to increase the interest for learning in the specific knowledge of different school subjects. On the other hand, the experience of users with virtual reality educational devices and applications is influenced by a number of factors. Some of these factors are related to the technical features and facilities of VR devices, another category of factors is related to the accuracy and correctness of the educational content of VR applications and there are also factors related to infrastructure (Internet connectivity and workspace). From this perspective, there is a need for reliable tools for evaluating the pedagogical effectiveness of virtual reality applications for the educational environment. The purpose of this study is to test the first version of a tool for evaluating virtual reality educational applications. The evaluation tool is structured on several dimensions related to both the ergonomics of the VR platforms and the pedagogical effectiveness of the tested applications. For testing, the Edmersiv application was used, a virtual laboratory that offers an experimentation and learning environment for several disciplines (geography, chemistry, biology, history, etc.). In total, 52 students from the Faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences, University of Bucharest participated in the study and tested the Edmersiv virtual laboratory, using HTC VIVE devices. The results of the study show that students with specialization in the pedagogical field find it useful to use the Edmersiv virtual laboratory in the teaching process. At the same time, the evaluation tool has been revised and future releases will focus on refining the scale and increasing validity.
Virtual reality, HTC VIVE, education, evaluation instrument, pedagogical effectiveness