Delivering Virtual Reality: Classroom Use of Three-Dimensional Computer Models of Historic Urban Environments

Saturday, January 7, 2012: 9:40 AM
Chicago Ballroom VI (Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers)
Lisa M. Snyder, University of California, Los Angeles
Successfully adapting academically rigorous three-dimensional virtual reality environments for broad pedagogical use requires accommodation of a range of student-centered activities and teacher-centered presentations within a framework that provides secondary scholars access to the historical evidence, methodologies, and interpretative choices that informed the creation of the virtual world.

This presentation will discuss efforts at UCLA to leverage existing and new computer modeling work for pedagogical use through a new real-time software interface and content repository intended to provide a mechanism for exploring highly detailed three-dimensional models in educational settings. This NEH-funded effort addresses the greatest challenge for building knowledge through use of three-dimensional computer models by providing scholars the mechanism to explore, annotate, craft narratives, and build arguments within the three-dimensional space – in essence, facilitating the creation of virtual learning environments for dissemination to educators and learners across grade levels and humanities disciplines. The software also allows the raw computer models to be used as the basis for constructivist learning activities, so that students can actively engage with the content to build knowledge by creating a personalized virtual learning environment and develop critical thinking skills about the historic reconstruction process.

Conclusions will be drawn from the software design team’s white paper on the development process as well as the summative evaluation of classroom tests conducted by Dr. Elaine Sullivan with the NEH-funded real-time model of the Egyptian temple complex of Karnak, and by the author with the Urban Simulation Team’s model of Chicago’s World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893.

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