• Immersion in virtual worlds - but not Second Life!

      Kanamgotov, Aslan; Christopoulos, Athanasios; Conrad, Marc; Prakoonwit, Simant (IEEE-INST ELECTRICAL ELECTRONICS ENGINEERS INC, 2012)
      Previous attempts to quantify immersion have been pursued within the context of game virtual worlds where there is a clear outline of a goal. This paper seeks to investigate the problem of immersion measurement in an online based virtual world (ReactionGrid) where there is no distinct in-world goal and environmental context is less immersive as in a game environment. The experiment investigates participants' feelings towards their immersion experience while being in a virtual world. Our findings suggest that immersion mostly depends on co-presence and communication of users.
    • Objects, worlds, and students: virtual interaction in education

      Christopoulos, Athanasios; Conrad, Marc; Shukla, Mitul; University of Bedfordshire (Education Research International, 2014-09-22)
      The main aim of this study is to form a complete taxonomy of the types of interactions that relate to the use of a virtual world for engaging learning experiences, when blended and hybrid learning methods are to be used. In order to investigate this topic more accurately and effectively, we distinguish four dimensions of interactions based on the context in which these occur, and the involved parts: in-world and in-class, user-to-user and user-to-world interactions. In order to conduct investigation into this topic and form a view of the interactions as clear as possible, we observed a cohort of 15 undergraduate Computer Science students while using an OpenSim-based institutionally hosted virtual world. Moreover, we ran a survey where 50 students were asked to indicate their opinion and feelings about their in-world experience. The results of our study highlight that educators and instructors need to plan their in-world learning activities very carefully and with a focus on interactions if engaging activities are what they want to offer their students. Additionally, it seems that student interactions with the content of the virtual world and the in-class student-to-student interactions, have stronger impact on students’ engagement when hybrid methods are used.
    • Views of educators on immersion in virtual worlds from Second Life to OpenSim

      Christopoulos, Athanasios; Conrad, Marc (Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, 2012)
      Whilst until recently Second Life was the most popular and widely used virtual world, the OpenSimulator (OpenSim), a new technology for the implementation of virtual worlds, has the potential to replace Second Life, given its similarity with the underlying technology. In this study we investigate and compare the immersion developed within Second Life and OpenSim based applications taking into account the different ways with which the OpenSim implementation is attained by the educators (hosted by the institution / externally). In doing so, 34 structured interviews have been conducted with university educators who expressed their opinion regarding the conditions under which immersion can be further enhanced. The results of this study demonstrate a clear trend and reveal that the orientation process, the educational activities that take place within the context of a virtual world, the technical issues that may downgrade them, the students themselves, and the network of interactions that occur in-world, affect the level of immersion encountered when used for educational purposes. Second Life meets these conditions best, but that does not mean that the OpenSim worlds are not or cannot become immersive and that they do not or cannot engage students with the educational activities.