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Augusts) Designing Cellverse -a VR game for learning biology

Authors:

Abstract

The increase in both availability and affordability of virtual reality has sparked renewed interest in immersive virtual reality (VR) as an educational tool (Castaneda et al., 2017; Thompson, 2018). While skeptics argue that film, video, and the internet can likewise transport learners, the level of the learner's immersion within the virtual world dissolves the boundary between the learner and the medium, creating an opportunity for the learner to experience embodied learning (Kiefer & Trumpp, 2012). To optimize the affordances of VR, designers should consider two central questions: (1) When does VR enable more effective learning than alternative options (video, simulations) and (2) How might designers optimize VR for different types of learning experiences? We will address those two questions through our work on Cellverse. Project Description In the Collaborative Learning Environments in Virtual Reality (CLEVR) project, we are currently developing an educational game, Cellverse , that will help students in high school biology to learn about cell structure, the process of transcribing DNA to RNA, and translating RNA to proteins (central dogma). We are using a Design-Based Research methodology (Easterday, Rees Lewis & Gerber et al., 2014) to iteratively create an experience that offers learners rich, immersive opportunities to collaboratively investigate and explore the cell from the inside out. Design challenges Through our work, we have examined the challenges in designing for collaboration and learning environment authenticity. We aim to create situations where individuals can collaborate across the boundaries of immersive VR, virtual worlds (i.e. MUVEs, MMORPGs), and reference information such as online databases. During Cellverse , students collaborate in small teams of two or more to examine a living cell or organ from within. Each student takes on a complementary task, such as entering the cell in VR to observe function and structure, gathering data about the cell, and navigate through the environment using a tablet and computer to solve a puzzle about the cell. Our second design challenge is to capture the dynamic and complex environment with the appropriate level of authenticity for the users (Jacobsen, 2017). A part of our challenge has been to create a context with an appropriate level of authenticity to allow the user to have a positive experience in the dynamic environment of a cell. In particular, we aim to represent the complexity and density of the cell within the limitations of the technological boundaries of VR and without excessive cognitive load for the user. Session overview During the session, we will share some of our experiences in creating a collaborative game situated within an authentic representation of a cell. A sample build is shown in Figure 1. One challenge we have faced
Designing Cellverse - A VR Game for Learning Biology
Meredith Thompson, Annie Wang, Dan Roy, Philip Tan, Eric Klopfer
Accepted paper, Connected Learning Summit, August 2-4 2018 MIT Cambridge MA
Citation: Thompson, M., Wang, A., Roy, P., Tan, P., Klopfer, E., (2018, Augusts)
Designing Cellverse - a VR game for learning biology
. Connected Learning Summit,
August 1-3 2018, MIT. Cambridge, MA.
Abstract
The increase in both availability and affordability of virtual reality has sparked renewed interest in
immersive virtual reality (VR) as an educational tool (Castaneda et al., 2017; Thompson, 2018). While
skeptics argue that film, video, and the internet can likewise transport learners, the level of the learner’s
immersion within the virtual world dissolves the boundary between the learner and the medium, creating
an opportunity for the learner to experience embodied learning (Kiefer & Trumpp, 2012). To optimize the
affordances of VR, designers should consider two central questions: (1) When does VR enable more
effective learning than alternative options (video, simulations) and (2) How might designers optimize VR
for different types of learning experiences? We will address those two questions through our work on
Cellverse
.
Project Description
In the Collaborative Learning Environments in Virtual Reality (CLEVR) project, we are currently
developing an educational game, Cellverse
, that will help students in high school biology to learn about
cell structure, the process of transcribing DNA to RNA, and translating RNA to proteins (central dogma).
We are using a Design-Based Research methodology (Easterday, Rees Lewis & Gerber et al., 2014) to
iteratively create an experience that offers learners rich, immersive opportunities to collaboratively
investigate and explore the cell from the inside out.
Design challenges
Through our work, we have examined the challenges in designing for collaboration and learning
environment authenticity. We aim to create situations where individuals can collaborate across the
boundaries of immersive VR, virtual worlds (i.e. MUVEs, MMORPGs), and reference information such as
online databases. During Cellverse
, students collaborate in small teams of two or more to examine a
living cell or organ from within. Each student takes on a complementary task, such as entering the cell in
VR to observe function and structure, gathering data about the cell, and navigate through the environment
using a tablet and computer to solve a puzzle about the cell.
Our second design challenge is to capture the dynamic and complex environment with the appropriate
level of authenticity for the users (Jacobsen, 2017). A part of our challenge has been to create a context
with an appropriate level of authenticity to allow the user to have a positive experience in the dynamic
environment of a cell. In particular, we aim to represent the complexity and density of the cell within the
limitations of the technological boundaries of VR and without excessive cognitive load for the user.
Session overview
During the session, we will share some of our experiences in creating a collaborative game situated within
an authentic representation of a cell. A sample build is shown in Figure 1. One challenge we have faced
regarding authenticity is how to enable students to identify specific parts and functions of the cellular
environment without introducing unrealistic anthropomorphic powers in the game. At the advice of the
subject matter experts who we have consulted along the way, we decided to use tools that scientists use
such as green fluorescent protein (GFP), and stains such as Coomassie Blue as a way to mark different
parts of the cell, as shown in figure 2. These tools meet the dual purpose of targeting specific parts of the
cell and showing learners how scientists focus on different aspects of the cell in their research.
Screenshots:
Figure 1: Screenshot from Cellverse showing a centriole (left) and the player’s clipboard (right), which
displays additional information about the object where the player’s pointer is focused (microfilaments).
Figure 2: Comparing the current color scheme to three labeling techniques: Proteins with Coomassie
blue, RNA and DNA with Methylene blue, polysaccharides with Periodic acid–Schiff (PAS)
References
Castaneda, Lisa; Cechony, Anna; Bautista, Arabella (2017) Applied VR in the
Schools All School Aggregated Findings Foundry 10.
http://foundry10.org/research/school-aggregated-findings-virtual-reality-2016-2017/
Easterday, M., Lewis, D. R., & Gerber, E. (2014, January). Design-based research process: Problems,
phases, and applications. In Proc. of International Conference of Learning Sciences
(Vol. 14).
Kiefer, M. T., & Trumpp, M., N. (2012). Embodiment theory and education: The foundations of cognition in
perception and action. Trends in Neuroscience and Education
, 1
(1), 15–20.
http://doi.org/10.1016/J.TINE.2012.07.002.
Jacobson, J. (2017). Authenticity in Immersive Design for Education. In Virtual, Augmented, and Mixed
Realities in Education
(pp. 35-54). Springer, Singapore.
Thompson, M. (2018, January 11). Making Virtual Reality a Reality in Today’s Classrooms. T.H.E.
Journal.
Retrieved from
https://thejournal.com/articles/2018/01/11/making-virtual-reality-a-reality-in-todays-classrooms.as
px.
.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Chapter
Authenticity, is a concept found in both media design and educational design, usually as a quality needed for success. Here, we develop a theory of authenticity for educational experiences with immersive media (VR, MR, MUVEs, etc.) to help educators and authors in this new field. In our framework, authenticity refers to the relationship between a truth and its representation, guided by a purpose. By truth, we refer to a fact, concept, or procedure, about something in the world or in the body of human knowledge, something we want to learn. To scaffold the learning process, students require a representation of the thing. It may be a written article (for concepts), an image (e.g., a photograph), or maybe an exemplar (an idealized example of a category). A representation or an experience is said to be authentic, when it successfully captures the fundamental truth of what we are learning. The immersive media have unique capabilities and just in the last few years have become available to the public on a large scale. Our theory is not a comprehensive style guide, but a practical way to look at one key dimension of good educational design.
Article
Recent theories propose that cognition is embodied in the sense that it is critically based on reinstatements of external (perception) and internal states (proprioception) as well as bodily actions that produce simulations of previous experiences. The present article provides a comprehensive overview of the latest research on embodied cognition in the domains of event memory, memory for concrete, abstract and number concepts as well as reading and writing. Psychological and neuroscientific research shows that these important cognitive functions are essentially grounded in action and perception as a function of experience. Embodied cognition research has important implications for education because it highlights the relevance of appropriate sensory and motor interactions during learning for the efficient development of human cognition.
Design-based research process: Problems, phases, and applications
  • M Easterday
  • D R Lewis
  • E Gerber
Easterday, M., Lewis, D. R., & Gerber, E. (2014, January). Design-based research process: Problems, phases, and applications. In Proc. of International Conference of Learning Sciences (Vol. 14).
Making Virtual Reality a Reality in Today's Classrooms
  • M Thompson
Thompson, M. (2018, January 11). Making Virtual Reality a Reality in Today's Classrooms. T.H.E. Journal. Retrieved from https://thejournal.com/articles/2018/01/11/making-virtual-reality-a-reality-in-todays-classrooms.as px. .