Learning Language through Immersive Story Telling in a 3D Virtual Environment

Learning Language through Immersive Story Telling in a 3D Virtual Environment

Seng-Chee Tan (Nanyang Technological University, Singapore) and Yin-Mei Wong (Nanyang Technological University, Singapore)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-517-9.ch012
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Abstract

This chapter reports on the development and application of Kingdoms, a 3D virtual environment used for the learning of Chinese language at elementary level. The Kingdoms was developed based on Vygotsky’s constructivist learning theory, game-based learning principles, and a specific instructional technique called the Enter-the-Story method. The Kingdoms leverages the representational fidelity and learner interaction of the 3D virtual environment, which is rich in Chinese cultural artifacts, to create an immersive and engaging environment for students to learn the Chinese language. The empirical evidence from an exploratory case study shows encouraging results that are indicative of the potential of 3D immersive worlds for language learning.
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Affordances Of 3D Virtual Environments For Language Learning

There are two main characteristics of 3D virtual environments (Dalgarno & Lee, 2010) that provide users with the sense of immersiveness (Driver & Driver, 2009): representational fidelity and learner interaction. Representational fidelity is achieved through realistic graphical representations of environments and objects that appear 3D to human perception, smooth object motion and view changes, and the use of avatars to represent users. Learner interaction could be achieved through view control, navigation and object manipulation, scripted objects that respond to human actions, and verbal or non-verbal communication with other users. Sense of immersiveness is a continuum (Driver & Driver, 2009) rather than an experience that can simply be dichotomized as a presence or absence; it is also dependent on the degree of engagement with the senses of the users, and the meaningfulness and desirability of the activities to the users. Thus, immersive experience is created when users respond to the visual, tactile, or auditory stimuli and when users participate in activities that require collaboration or interactivity with objects or people. Although advancement in technologies has made possible additional features like realistic 3D audio that simulates spatial depth or the use of haptic technology to provide kinesthetic and tactile feedback (e.g., CAVE project by Cruz-Neira, Sandin, & DeFanti, 1993), we do not consider these features to be necessarily defining characteristics of 3D virtual environments.

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