Designing Educational Paths in Virtual Worlds for a Successful Hands-On Learning: Cultural Scenarios in NetConnect Project

Designing Educational Paths in Virtual Worlds for a Successful Hands-On Learning: Cultural Scenarios in NetConnect Project

Assunta Tavernise (Università della Calabria, Italy) and Francesca Bertacchini (Università della Calabria, Italy)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0125-1.ch006
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“Connecting European Culture through New Technology – NetConnect” is a project promoted by Culture 2000 European Programme, in which three 3D cultural scenarios have been realized and used for educational purposes. This chapter illustrates how the immersive NetConnect virtual worlds offer a technology-enhanced constructivist learning through different educational paths, that have been designed according to different levels: global/particular perspective (cultural goods are known as single historical and artistic product, as well as in relational terms with the urban space); manipulation (users can explore the content and learn by doing); - a multimedia section including videos, Pictures, and texts; details (daily life scenes are reconstructed on the basis of ancient documentation providing specific information).
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Recent advances in multimedia and Web technology have given rise to different kinds of interactive virtual worlds (Eschenbrenner et al., 2008; Nalbant & Bostan, 2006), offering attractive opportunities both for entertainment and education: this new kind of learning has been called “Edutainment” (Bilotta et al., 2009, 2010; Tavernise & Bertacchini, 2015). In particular, a great deal of research has driven to an increasing effort in the realization of virtual cultural worlds, in order to support and promote knowledge transfer related to Cultural Heritage (CH) (Knipfer et al., 2009; Pantano & Tavernise, 2011). Hence, a large amount of CH educational contents have become available on the web through interactive three-dimensional environments, offering an experience powerful and motivating at the same time (Petric et al., 2003; Owston et al., 2009). In fact, traditional learning of CH is based on static 2D images, which are usually pictures of ruined buildings, and on fragmentary information, without the insertion of a CH find in its wide context. On the contrary, the reconstruction of an entire 3D world allows the visualization of a find in the historical context through the detailed reconstruction of buildings, cities, landscapes, and its use in daily life. Moreover, its original state is recreated through the addition of the missing parts.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Educational Paths: paths that can be followed by users according to their own personalized learning requests.

Web 2.0: technology that allows end-users to participate actively in the promotion ad diffusion of a digital contents globally. In particular, they offer virtual spaces and tools in order to share knowledge among users and create communities oriented to a specific topic. Meaningful examples are MySpace, YouTube and Facebook.

Constructivist Learning: learning (knowledge and meaning) generated by the interaction between thought and experience.

Connecting European Culture through New Technology (NETConnect): project promoted by Culture 2000 European Programme, carried out from 2006 to 2009. It concerned the definition of cultural interconnections among three archaeological sites: Magna Graecia in Italy, Glauberg in Germany, and Biskupin in Poland and its main objectives were the following: - the sharing and highlighting of common Cultural Heritages of European significance, - the use of state-of-the-art technology to make European heritage more visible and accessible, - the improvement of access and participation in culture and in new technologies for all citizens of the EU, - cooperation activities between cultural operators and technological experts for spreading European culture through the newly established International network.

Geographical Information System (GIS): system which recognizes user’s geographical position and allows him to easily identify the most convenient route. It allows also the management of thematic maps consisting of different superimposed layers (each layer is a spatial dataset containing a common feature type representing objects, events and phenomena from real world) and extracting interesting aspects of a fixed territory. In this way the user is able to virtually travel across the area, increasing or reducing the scale level of the representation and choosing the features more interesting to visualize.

Virtual Reconstructions: three-dimensional modeled graphics objects, realized in order to engage users’ experiences and facilitate the learning process in CH scenarios.

Prosumer: term indicating the mixture of consumer and producer.

Virtual Tour: it is the 3D reconstruction of a location (existing or existed in the past and lost nowadays). It usually consists of a sequence of videos and can provide multimedia elements such as sound effects, music, narration, and text. A convincing immersive experience is given by virtual tours that allow the “exploration” of the computer environment as in real life.

Edutainment: term that is the result of the mixture of “education” and “entertainment”; it means a learning experience that is formative and amusing at the same time.

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