Conference PaperPDF Available

Towards an Immersive Learning Knowledge Tree -a Conceptual Framework for Mapping Knowledge and Tools in the Field

Authors:

Abstract and Figures

The interdisciplinary field of immersive learning research is scattered. Combining efforts for better exploration of this field from the different disciplines requires researchers to communicate and coordinate effectively. We call upon the community of immersive learning researchers for planting the Knowledge Tree of Immersive Learning Research, a proposal for a systematization effort for this field, combining both scholarly and practical knowledge, cultivating a robust and ever-growing knowledge base and methodological toolbox for immersive learning. This endeavor aims at promoting evidence-informed practice and guiding future research in the field. This paper contributes with the rationale for three objectives: 1) Developing common scientific terminology amidst the community of researchers; 2) Cultivating a common understanding of methodology, and 3) Advancing common use of theoretical approaches, frameworks, and models.
Content may be subject to copyright.
978-1-7348995-2-8/21/$31.00 ©2021 Immersive Learning Research Network
Towards an Immersive Learning Knowledge Tree - a
Conceptual Framework for Mapping Knowledge and
Tools in the Field
Dennis Beck
Curriculum & Instruction
University of Arkansas
Fayetteville, U.S.A.
debeck@uark.edu
Christian Gütl
Technical University of Graz
Graz, Austria
c.guetl@tugraz.at
Scott Warren
University of North Texas
Denton, U.S.A.
Scott.Warren@unt.edu
Leonel Morgado
Universidade Aberta & INESC TEC
Coimbra, Portugal
leonel.morgado@uab.pt
Andreas Dengel
Julius-Maximilians-Universität
Würzburg
Würzburg, Germany
andreas.dengel@uni-wuerzburg.de
Jonathon Richter
Immersive Learning Research Network
Missoula, U.S.A.
jonathon@immersivelrn.org
Mark Lee
Charts Sturt University
Albury-Wodonga, Australia
mark@immersivelrn.org
Minjuan Wang
School of Journalism & Media Studies
San Diego State University
San Diego, U.S.A.
mwang@sdsu.edu
AbstractThe interdisciplinary field of immersive learning
research is scattered. Combining efforts for better exploration of
this field from the different disciplines requires researchers to
communicate and coordinate effectively. We call upon the
community of immersive learning researchers for planting the
Knowledge Tree of Immersive Learning Research, a proposal for
a systematization effort for this field, combining both scholarly
and practical knowledge, cultivating a robust and ever-growing
knowledge base and methodological toolbox for immersive
learning. This endeavor aims at promoting evidence-informed
practice and guiding future research in the field. This paper
contributes with the rationale for three objectives: 1) Developing
common scientific terminology amidst the community of
researchers; 2) Cultivating a common understanding of
methodology, and 3) Advancing common use of theoretical
approaches, frameworks, and models.
Index termsimmersive learning, Knowledge Tree, research,
epistemology, ontology
I. INTRODUCTION
The field of immersive learning research is heavily
interdisciplinary and thus traveled by a scattered community of
researchers, who journey through it from different areas of
knowledge. These include: Educational technology, computer
science, game design, learning sciences, psychology,
biomedical sciences, narrative studies, arts, design, media
studies, communication sciences, and the thousands of
disciplinary and occupational content areas wherein immersive
learning and training may be relevant. Each discipline carries its
own history of knowledge development and brings its related
assumptions, theories, and practices into the field of immersive
learning. Wondering may be the cornerstone of knowledge
development and wandering the means to delve into its farthest
reaches. Yet, combining efforts for better exploration of this
field and its topography from the different disciplines does
require wanderers to communicate and coordinate effectively,
developing a joint perspective of the field and devising the
means to blaze trails. Wanderers may climb a tree to attain that
perspective and come up with those means, and as such we call
upon the community of immersive learning researchers for
planting such a Knowledge Tree, supporting research wanderers
through the field.
Growing such a tree would involve developing common
terminology amidst the community of researchers, and a
common language - or at least mutually intelligible languages,
bringing together diverse areas of research. Currently, the field
of immersive learning is a Babel of unintelligibility, with
strikingly different scope for terms as foundational for its
meaning as “immersion”, as analysis of the thin theoretical
grounding of recent surveys in the field demonstrates [1]. The
perspective of the field status is muddled, the current knowledge
partially disjointed, specifically among different disciplines. As
a result, researchers who are wandering the field struggle to
collaborate with others.
The Knowledge Tree of Immersive Learning Research, a
proposal presented herein, is thus a systematization effort for
this field, integrating both scholarly and practical knowledge. Its
purpose is to cultivate a robust and ever-growing knowledge
base and methodological toolbox for immersive learning, aimed
at promoting evidence-informed practice and guiding future
research in the field.
The main contribution of this paper focuses on three
objectives: 1) Developing common scientific terminology
349
amidst the community of researchers; 2) Cultivating a common
understanding of methodology, and 3) Advancing common use
of theoretical approaches, frameworks, and models. Thus, the
remainder of the paper is structured as follows: Background and
related work, Steps taken toward development of the
Knowledge Tree, and a First Concept of the Knowledge Tree of
Immersive Learning Research.
II. BACKGROUND AND RELATED WORK
A. The Concept of Immersion
Many scholars assume an intuitive understanding of the
concept of “immersion”, without even citing a definition [1].
This intuitive understanding was originally expressed by
Murray’s analogy to being submerged in water, a “sensation of
being surrounded by a completely other reality[2]. Scholars
across technology-centered fields of study have adopted this
perspective and developed it into two main theoretical views,
both employed by diverse groups of authors. The first is the
concept of immersion as an attribute, quality, or characteristic of
a technological system [3]. The second view focuses on the
participants response to being surrounded or submerged [4].
However, outside the field of technology, and prior to its
preoccupation with immersion, other fields have been
discussing this topic: learning sciences, psychology, literature
studies, the arts, etc. These fields discussed how narratives,
engagement, psychological flow and other factors have
contributed to immersion as a phenomenon [5]. Over 20 years
have passed since the two technological-centered theoretical
views debuted, yet the scholarly activity in the field of
immersive learning research has neither embraced a definition
nor combined it with the concurrent non-technological views. In
the field of cognitive science, Slater may have come the closest
by acknowledging the role of narrative, not just the technology
attributes [3]. This fragmented perspective on immersion is
reflected in the current literature reviews published in the field,
with many of them simply selecting a definition without
explanation, evidence, or critical appraisal [1], often intertwined
or synonymous with other concepts such as presence,
involvement, flow and engagement [5]. This has short-circuited
the impact of the reviews as they have not been successful in
bridging theoretical perspectives on immersion with current
research results, and thus have not been able to highlight the gap
in the existing research: Many do not even cite other previous
reviews [6].
More recently there have been significant efforts to develop
a comprehensive definition of immersion. The research team of
Nilsson and colleagues from Denmark performed an exhaustive,
interdisciplinary review of the definitions of immersion in order
to develop a three-dimensional taxonomy, which they illustrate
with the “immersion cube” diagram [5]. The immersion cube
provides a theoretical structure for understanding immersion in
three different dimensions: system immersion, narrative
immersion, and challenge-based immersion. The experienced
immersion is thus understood as the nexus of these dimensions.
The cube can be used to measure and visually display an
interpretation of immersion as varying levels of the three
dimensions. The system immersion dimension reflects the
properties of the system, which comprises Slater’s definition [9]
and simultaneously highlights it as unidimensional. The
narrative immersion dimension reflects the degree of mental
absorption or intense preoccupation with the story, the diegetic
space, and the characters inhabiting this space (id., p. 114).
This highlights content-based immersion (system and narrative)
as bidimensional. Finally, challenge-based immersion reflects
a user’s mental absorption brought about by the experience of
challenges requiring mental or sensorimotor skills(p. 116).
This extrudes the agency of the immersed as an essential
dimension of the immersion phenomenon.
These dimensions comprise the diversity of other aspects
employed in the field. For instance, challenge-based immersion
includes aspects such as what Adams [7] described as strategic
immersion (optimization of choices, rather than meaning, e.g.,
focusing on winning a game rather than following the storyline)
and tactical immersion, which occurs when attention is absorbed
reacting to obstacles or enjoyment an interpretation which is
extremely like Csikszentmihalyi’s concept of flow [8]. Presence
is another major parallel concept related to immersion.
Described as the feeling of “being there” [8], this psychological
state is more extensive than that. Alternative views include
Lombard and Ditton’s [9] definition of presence as the
perception of non-mediation, Biocca’s [10] contribution of
presence as arising from a mental imagery space, Slater [11] and
Waterworth & Waterworth’s attentional perspective on presence
as emphasis on perception of stimuli [12], and Riva et al.’s [13]
view of presence as a biological and cultural mechanic for self-
making sense of sensorial input. Nilsson et al. [5] discussed how
these four views on presence are related to the three dimensions
of system, narrative, and challenge-based immersion. Slater’s
emphasis on measurability of presence maps to the concept of
system immersion, for instance; the self-making from sensory
input is related to the combined dimensions of challenge-based
immersion and narrative immersion. The three-dimensional
view of immersion integrates these diverse perspectives on
presence, from an alternative theoretical viewpoint.
Although Nillson and colleagues provided this clarity
towards our understanding of immersion, they did not define it.
That pragmatic contribution was provided by Agrawal, Simon,
and Bech [14], who although without being aware of Nillson et
al.’s work did reach an identical conclusion from the extant
literature and synthesized it as “a phenomenon experienced by
an individual when (...) in a state of deep mental involvement in
which (...) cognitive processes (...) cause a shift in (...)
attentional state such that one may experience disassociation
from the awareness of the physical world (p. 5). Their
definition thus supplies a practical component to complement
the immersion cube taxonomic framework. Thus, the
ontological roots of the Knowledge Tree include both Agrawal
et al.’s definition and Nilsson et al.’s immersion cube.
B. The Concept of Immersive Learning
Combining the concept of learning with the above discussed
concept of immersion broadens the focus of our topic, thus
increasing the number and angles of viewpoints, as well as
introducing other disciplinary perspectives. Thus, in our notion
of the knowledge tree, new branches open paths to be considered
and influence an overall understanding.
Learning is currently seen as a phenomenon, occurring
amidst a variety of contexts. This holistic view considers social,
350
cultural, cognitive, and biological contexts as providing relevant
perspective and insights to the understanding of the
phenomenon of learning [15]. Learning research addresses both
focused topics (such as individual and topic particularities,
processes and their design and content) and wider contextual
impacts (motivation, changes brought about by technology,
lifelong learning, regulatory aspects).
With this understanding of learning, immersion is introduced
as a lens and instrument to investigate, understand, and
manipulate those contexts [1]. From the holistic view on
learning, it follows, for instance, that immersive learning
addresses not only the learning outcomes, but also the mutual
relationship between the provided educational medium, the
learners’ perception and cognitive processes as well as their
motivational and affective states and traits [16], among other
topics, including organizational and social aspects. Researchers
on immersive learning may consider utilizing immersion as both
a method to understand a topic and as a means of exploring its
impacts on specific learning variables. For example, researchers
may explore the role of culture in learning and development by
focusing on how various aspects of culture can factor into the
experience of a state of deep mental involvement for learners,
via culture’s systemic, narrative, and challenge-based aspects.
Conversely, other researchers may be interested in the impacts
of specific system, narrative, and challenge-based immersion
variables on prenatal and lifelong brain development and
maturation. Others yet may apply “immersion” as a lens for
teacher education, exploring how we can improve teacher
education experiences through the manipulation of system
properties, the learner agency (challenge-based dimension), and
narrative components.
C. Problem and Purpose
As addressed above, the main issue identified is that the field
of immersive learning research is fragmented due to its
interdisciplinary nature and diverse community of researchers.
The disjointed landscape of immersive learning research
features multiple literature reviews that do not use common
definitions of important terms or methods, and a lack of citing
of each other’s work. All of this has resulted in a weak
theoretical grounding for the field of immersive learning
research, a lack of clear directions for the future, and little
collaboration across academic disciplines.
To overcome the problem stated above, we propose a
Conceptual Framework for building a common and agreed
understanding as well as for mapping knowledge, tools, and
services in the field. The proposed “Knowledge Tree of
Immersive Learning Research” or Immersive Learning
Knowledge Tree” / “iLRN Knowledge Tree” aims for a
systematization effort for this field, combining both scholarly
and practical knowledge. Its purpose is to cultivate a robust and
ever-growing knowledge base and methodological toolbox for
immersive learning, to promote evidence-informed practice and
guiding future research related to immersive learning.
Towards the steps to build the iLRN Knowledge Tree and
maintain its value for the broader community, scholarly and
practical aspects and viewpoints must be considered. Thus, it
requires researchers to include and synthesize a broad body of
scholarly sources, such as (a) Scoping and systematic reviews
on a diverse range of immersive learning constructs and
concepts; (b) ontology(ies) and related taxonomies for capturing
empirical research findings on the relationships between the
constructs identified in the scoping reviews and synthesis of
findings; (c) a conceptual model to encourage channeling of
future research efforts and contributions across the field toward
a shared overall framework and agenda. However, practical
knowledge sources are also important for the systemization of
an applied field such as immersive learning. This will include
practical sources such as (a) an evidence repository, based on
the taxonomic framework and conceptual data model, enabling
the derivation of evidence-based design principles, guidelines,
and best practices for engaging, effective and efficient learning
experiences; (b) community-curated collection of exemplars
embodying and demonstrating the operationalization of the
principles, guidelines, and best practices; (c) guidelines and
references to resources - theoretical foundations, practical
examples and existing tools and services - to assist educators and
developers in their implementation.
III. STEPS TAKEN TOWARDS THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE
IMMERSIVE LEARNING KNOWLEDGE TREE
Towards the realization of the Immersive Learning
Knowledge Tree, the researchers of the iLRN community have
paved the way and provided soil and seeds for building the
envisioned conceptual framework.
A. Development of Methods
1) Scoping Review Protocol
Our initial consideration was to develop methods for
authoring systematic literature reviews [1;6]. These focus on the
identification and retrieval of scholarly literature that answers a
specific question to inform practice, policy, and further research
- a critical instrument for developing a joint vision of the field of
immersive learning. However, we quickly discovered that the
undeveloped and fragmented status of the field of immersive
learning would render systematic review efforts unfeasible for
matching against each other. The building of a common
understanding needed more of a groundwork approach, one that
scoping reviews would provide. Thus, we developed a protocol
for doing scoping reviews on immersive learning, enabling the
community to identify knowledge gaps, identify the location and
scope of evidence on the body of immersive learning literature
[1]. We also viewed this scoping review protocol as a means for
uniting the methods in the field under one banner. Its use is
underway and hopefully will provide an exemplar of the
importance of common concepts and criteria for future, more
specific, systematic literature reviews.
2) Inter-rater Vetting Process for Immersion Cube
Classification
Our first use of the scoping review protocol was to explore
the actual research-based accounts of educational uses,
practices, and strategies in immersive learning. This priority
stems from a key challenge faced by earlier generations of
research on technology-influenced areas of education: a tunnel-
vision focus, perhaps born of enthusiasm, to attempt to ascertain
direct impacts of technology into particular aspects of learning.
Inevitably, each generation of educational technology, from
Pressey’s teaching machines [17] to modern extended reality,
through computer-aided learning, edutainment, serious games,
351
and others, went through this, reaching the inevitable
conclusion: learning does not depend solely on the technology,
but on its overall context and method of use; and it is not neutral
nor unidirectional, since technology both changes and is
changed by its adoption. This, which Papert criticized over three
decades ago as technocentric research [18], has been the
realization of information systems research in general, which
has focused on the need for multidimensional analysis for
understanding and influencing technology-infused phenomena
[19]. To break out of the tunnel vision of spurious techno-centric
research, the community needs a perspective on the available
contextual knowledge: the actual uses, practices, and strategies
taking place with immersive learning. This application of the
scoping review protocol implied conducting a survey of surveys
of this field, which has already yielded a panorama on the uses
of immersive learning and the current gaps [6], as mentioned in
the next subsection.
In pursuing this survey of surveys, the question arose on how
to situate uses of immersive learning within the theoretical
perspective of immersion. The immersion cube mentioned
above provided a framework, but not a method. For this, we
established an inter-rater vetting process for classification
amidst the immersion cube. Inter-rated vetting compares and
contrasts researchers’ independent classifications to minimize
bias [20]. For immersive learning uses, our method had
researchers independently consider each unit under scrutiny on
system immersion, narrative immersion, and challenge
immersion, classifying them at 0.25 intervals between 0 and 1
representing a qualitative 5-point Likert scale from no
association to full association with each immersion dimension,
followed by an interrater process where the panel of researchers
discussed these classifications until reaching consensus [6].
3) Validated Questionnaire on Technological Research
Priorities for Immersive Learning
To identify technological research priorities on immersive
learning we decided it is necessary to survey the community of
immersive learning researchers. To do this, we authored a
questionnaire [21] designed to gather the researchers’ priorities
regarding the challenges hampering widespread adoption of
immersive environments in learning contexts, focusing on
several issues within access, content production, and
deployment. Thus, grounded in the literature on these topics, we
conducted an expert validation process of the questionnaire that
involved three cycles of feedback and revision. This process
provided important recommendations on the structural, context
clarification, ambiguity, and missing aspects of the
questionnaire. We then deployed it with the researchers involved
with events organized by the Immersive Learning Research
network, resulting in a ranking of these research priorities [24].
B. Application of Methods to Scholarship
1) Scoping review of survey of surveys
The application of the methodological contributions
described in the previous subsection has yielded early seeds of
the Knowledge Tree effort. Applying the scoping reviewing
protocol methodology, which dictates a survey of surveys to
demonstrate the gap in current knowledge, resulted in a
rhizomatic view of the cohesion of the field. Out of 47 identified
surveys between 2014 and 2019, only 29 of those cited at least
one of the others. The other 18 (i.e., over a third) were outliers,
that did not cite and were not cited by other surveys [6]. Further,
those 29 mostly acknowledge a single survey from 2017, which
was specifically about augmented reality in education [22] and
only cited one of the earlier surveys, also about this same topic
[23]. Thus, the field of immersive learning research is scattered
in what should be its very source of cohesion: its surveys of the
literature. The augmented reality systems approach to
immersion has some cohesion, but not the field of immersive
learning itself.
2) Operationalizing the Immersion Cube
A second result of this survey of surveys is an examination
of actual uses of immersive learning environments, applying the
inter-rater vetting process for classification amidst the
immersion cube. This spatial positioning and dimensioning
within the immersion cube revealed six major clusters of uses
(Complementing, Simulating, Exploring, Engaging,
Experiencing, and Accessing). The spatial aspects of these
clusters within the immersion cube also revealed four voids to
current research on uses of immersive learning: Low immersion
uses, challenge-focused immersion uses, low-tech immersion
uses, and combining high-tech with strong interdisciplinary
aspects [6]. The clusters highlighted current pathways for
research, and the void both inspired new pathways and indicated
how some lines of inquiry are occurring outside the theoretical
lens of immersion. This survey of surveys effort is still
undergoing analysis of its results, with an analysis of the
educational practices and strategies underway.
3) Utilizing the Technological Research Priorities
Questionnaire with the Immersive Learning Community
In parallel, we applied the technological research priorities
questionnaire, by surveying the immersive learning research
Network (iLRN) community of researchers on their priorities for
technology research. Defining this community as researchers
involved with iLRN-organized events (committee members,
organizers, keynote speaker, and authors), the results ranked and
clustered 43 priorities, with the topmost being
“Creating/identifying solutions for teachers/trainers to be able to
identify learning support needs and provide extra resources
directly within immersive environments” [24].
IV. INTRODUCING A FIRST CONCEPT OF THE IMMERSIVE
LEARNING KNOWLEDGE TREE
Patterned after a natural tree, the Immersive Learning
Knowledge Tree metaphor possesses soil, roots, trunk,
branches, leaves, and even birds (Fig. 1). The roots, born of seeds
of interest and inquiry, are the common definitions, methods,
and research instruments. Growing from their initial energy
drivers, they provide stability to the soil and then sap their
sustenance from it. The soil here is the combination of
ontologies, taxonomies and conceptual data models that become
more consolidated as the roots develop, and then provide them
sustenance for further growth. Roots and soil provide a strong
foundation for the advancement of the field of immersive
learning. The trunk represents the structural knowledge which
surfaces from the ground and roots. This structural knowledge
will be composed of scoping and systematic literature reviews
on various topics related to immersive learning, of classified
collections of facts like expert input from the field of immersive
352
Fig. 1 - The Immersive Learning Knowledge Tree (original art by Demetrius Lacet).
learning (e.g., the iLRN State of XR and Immersive Learning
Report) and evidence repositories; and of the awareness of the
networked knowledge of the community researching immersive
learning provided by Scientometrics. The branches of the
knowledge tree, sprouting from the trunk, consist of two things:
1) The fields of inquiry which extend from the core trunk of
immersive learning, leading to specific outcomes; and 2) the
research priorities and agendas, intertwined with the fields of
inquiry. The branches produce shoots which develop first leaf
buds and then leaves, in this case in the form of exemplars (e.g.,
practitioner accounts, cases, software), instruments (templates
for practice and research), and tools. The birds, here the
community of immersive learning researchers and practitioners,
employ these exemplars in their work (e.g., building nests), as
well grouping some of the resources together through
crowdsourcing efforts like tagging and reporting. But why
cultivate such a tree? The next section explores our rationale.
A. Knowledge Tree Rationale
Due to the ‘publish or perish’ nature of academia,
researchers often focus on short term research studies that are
disconnected from an overall framework or agenda. This is
unfortunate, because when individual efforts build upon each
other, arguments can be contrasted, fact-checking can more
readily be accomplished, and informed discussion ensue. An
interdisciplinary field such as immersive learning adds
additional complexity to this problem as scholars from different
academic fields often approach their research using extremely
different methods and terminology. Unfortunately, this has
resulted in a feeble theoretical grounding for the field which has
hindered its advancement, made it vulnerable to criticism, and
suppressed interdisciplinary collaboration efforts.
The solution to our problem is of course the systematization
of the field of immersive learning, and that begins with our
understanding of its ontology - what is the nature and existence
of what we are studying? This can aid researchers in identifying
their level of confidence regarding what they are studying in
terms of its nature and existence. For example, who decides
what is ‘real’ or not in research? How do differing perspectives
on reality help scholars better understand their research?
Emerging from the field’s ontology is how we frame our
research to discover new knowledge - epistemology. More
specifically, how do we explore the scope, methods and validity
related to the acquisition of knowledge? In the context of
immersive learning environments, important questions to
consider would be a) what constitutes a knowledge claim; b)
what the process of knowledge acquisition is; and c) how we can
measure transferability of knowledge. Epistemology is
important because it influences how we frame our research in
our attempts to discover knowledge. The interdisciplinary nature
of immersive learning places challenges to developing such
solid groundings, providing a way to overcome them is the
driver of the Immersive Learning Knowledge Tree proposal.
353
B. The Roots - the Common Language (Definition, Methods,
Instruments)
The roots of the Immersive Learning Knowledge Tree are
the common definitions, methods and research instruments that
enter the ontological and epistemological soil and consolidate it
as a strong foundation for the advancement of the field of
immersive learning. As mentioned above, we need to agree as a
field on common definitions for foundational scientific
terminology such as immersion and learning, and to their
combination on the phenomenon of immersive learning. The use
of common definitions will enable the use of meta-analysis
techniques, which help boost the power to study causality, by
combining primary studies and providing a precise estimate of
impacts and effects. Beginning at a similar starting point (e.g.,
common definitions) will also facilitate establishing
professional collaborations with others in our diverse field.
Also, while preserving our interdisciplinary strengths, the
immersive learning research community needs to coalesce
around common methodological underpinnings, as well as begin
to construct open instruments. These similar methods should be
constructed for the most basic of research tasks such as scoping
and systematic review protocols, and experimental and quasi-
experimental research protocols, while allowing for the diversity
of methodological approaches from the interdisciplinary fields
of immersive learning to coordinate from these foundational
methods. Again, starting at the same basis methodologically will
help advance the field and make the use of scoping and
systematic literature reviews much more impactful.
C. The Soil - the Ontological and Epistemological Terrain
Due to the interdisciplinary nature of the field, the soil of the
Immersive Learning Knowledge Tree will be composed from a
diverse collection of ontological knowledge: ontologies,
taxonomies, and conceptual data models. These constructs will
provide the essential ingredients necessary to pull together the
disparate, fragmented research in the field into a comprehensive
and comprehensible form. The ontological and epistemological
soil will also provide guidance for scholars not only on how to
frame their research in different ways, but also in how to use
differing perspectives on reality as a lens for understanding and
applying their research. This currently loose soil will be
consolidated as methodological roots embed themselves within
it and together soil and roots provide the foundation for the trunk
of the Knowledge Tree.
D. The Trunk - the Knowledge Growing More Solid Yearly
The trunk of the Immersive Learning Knowledge Tree
represents the structural knowledge which grows from the
ontological and epistemological soil. Currently a sapling vying
to become a gigantic sequoia, the trunk will be its solidity, its
pillar and common strength. Its interconnected wood rings,
sapping the roots, form scoping and systematic literature
reviews on various topics related to immersive learning;
classified collections of facts like expert input from the field of
immersive learning (e.g., the iLRN State of XR and Immersive
Learning Report) and evidence repositories; and the
Scientometric awareness of the networked knowledge of the
community researching immersive learning.
The scoping reviews will enlarge the trunk by identifying
gaps in the scholarly knowledge, better understanding the depth
and breadth of the literature, and clarifying specific concepts;
the systematic reviews will further widen the trunk with focused
answers from the literature to inform practice, policy, and future
research - both to further strengthen the trunk and for its off-
shooting branches, twigs, and leaves.
The classification efforts lead to a repository (or mutually
intelligible repositories) consisting of a collection of seminal
research publications, empirical case studies, and open data sets.
The classification efforts also lead and develop from expert
input such as the State of XR and Immersive Learning annual
report, a “multi-sector, cross-disciplinary initiative aimed at
regularly surveying the XR and immersive learning landscape to
identify the technological, pedagogical, and other innovations
exhibiting the most promise, along with the major opportunities
and challenges related to their uptake, adoption, and
implementation; and advancing research and promoting
research-grounded practice in the use of XR and immersive
technologies for supporting learners across the full span of
learning from K12 through higher education as well as in
workplace, community, and lifelong learning” [25]. The diverse
pieces of evidence within the repository and from expert input
are linked to the knowledge provided by scoping and systematic
reviews, providing a strong connection from which both further
research and practice can branch out. This strong connection
will also help to extend the impact of the scoping and systematic
literature reviews through the authoring of evidence-based
design principles, guidelines, and best practices encapsulating
“what works” (and what does not) for creating effective and
engaging immersive learning experiences.
The Scientometrics describing the network topology of the
community researching immersive learning aim to build self-
awareness among the community: who its members are, where
they assemble to discuss and where they publish, which aspects
of inquiry are being pursued, which citation networks reveal
influences, trends, discussions, and interpretation, which topics.
This information thus renders the community more cohesive,
streamlining and supporting the academic discussion and
exchange of viewpoints, and acting as the bonding element that
strengthens the trunk matter.
Emerging from the epistemological roots and ontological
ground, the scoping and systematic literature reviews on various
topics related to immersive learning; classified collections of
facts like expert input from the field of immersive learning and
evidence repositories; and the Scientometric awareness of the
networked knowledge of the community researching immersive
learning all combine to form the trunk of the Immersive
Learning Knowledge Tree.
E. Branches - Knowledge Reaching Out
The branches of the knowledge tree, sprouting from the
trunk, consist of two things: 1) The fields of inquiry which
extend from the core trunk of immersive learning, leading to
specific outcomes; and 2) the research priorities and agendas of
the field, intertwined with the fields of inquiry. The academic
fields of inquiry include educational technology, computer
science, game design, learning sciences, psychology,
biomedical sciences, narrative studies, arts, design, media
354
studies, communication sciences, and the thousands of other
disciplinary and occupational content areas where immersive
learning and training may be relevant.
This sprouting occurs from the trunk of scoping and
systematic literature reviews, expert input, evidence repository,
and community of research. For example, a systematic review
of the uses of immersive learning environments with individuals
with autism to advance their knowledge of STEM subjects is
organically extending branches at least to the disciplinary fields
of didactics (of science, technology, engineering, and
mathematics), educational science, cognitive science, and
communication science. An obstacle to immersive learning
listed in the State of XR and Immersive Learning report [25]
such as “interoperability” would branch out to different
disciplinary approaches to it, from computer science and
information systems to operations research and educational
sciences. Researchers from a field such as English Literature
studying narrative immersion would travel along the branches
of their own field but would also leverage the awareness of the
network of research to cross over to branches in other fields,
such as computational content analysis or media studies, to
discuss their views and findings with similarly interested
immersive learning researchers.
F. Leaves - the Practical Endeavors
The leaves of the knowledge tree comprise exemplars (e.g.,
practitioner accounts, cases), instruments (templates for practice
and research, forms), and tools. The ‘tool’ leaves may include a
virtual choreography production tool, a resource creation wiki,
and “How To” guides (e.g., how to apply a method), among
many other forms. Leaves can be considered as the periphery of
the structural knowledge branches (the fields of inquiry and
research priorities). These rather practical endeavors should
guide and support investigators in carrying out and situating
their own research and practice within the immersive learning
community.
G. Birds the Community
Just as birds fly from branch to branch and leaf to leaf,
finding nourishment and building nests, so the community of
immersive learning researchers and practitioners employ
exemplars (leaves) in their nest-building work (e.g., professional
practice). For example, primary school history teachers
interested in the use of augmented reality for a field trip may
scan the various leaves of the Knowledge Tree for useful
resources in their teaching, gathering them into lesson plans on
the historical accomplishments of well-known figures. They
may use virtual choreography production tools to keep records
of the lessons or produce content for them, as well as author a
“teachers’ guide” to go with the lesson plans. As they do this,
they can be encouraged to create common tags for these
resources and share their self-authored resources so that future
instructors may locate them as a well-curated grouping. Another
example may be a researcher of technical immersion uses with
individuals with autism, who may download the scoping review
protocol to better understand the gaps in the research literature
in the field and better situate one’s own research within a gap.
The researcher can also be encouraged to tag the completed
scoping review and link it to the Knowledge Tree, becoming part
of the trunk.
V. WORK IN PROGRESS AND FUTURE GROWTH OPPORTUNITIES
FOR THE IMMERSIVE LEARNING KNOWLEDGE TREE
Current work focuses on cultivating the roots and enriching
the soil of the Immersive Learning Knowledge Tree. A working
group of scholars have been meeting regularly to determine the
scope, method and human resources needed for authoring the
ontological and epistemological structure. Our hope is to present
our progress at the 2021 Immersive Learning Research Network
Conference. In parallel, we are developing a Scientometrics
view of the field and community of immersive learning research
for the purpose of standardizing, collecting, analyzing, and
reporting data on a wide range of scholarly and practical
activities to provide a clearer picture of our community’s work.
Our hope is that the regular reporting and dissemination of this
data will build self-awareness among the community and thus
bring us closer together, streamlining and supporting the
academic discussion and exchange of viewpoints, and acting as
the bonding element that strengthens the trunk matter. Another
part of the root structure is common methods. To address this,
we are also developing a rigorous, replicable method for
classification of specimens of immersive learning aspects within
the dimensions of the immersion cube. The current classification
method [6] is rather rudimentary, a score-based method carried
out by independent researchers with good scale-reliabilities, but
an evidence-based scoring guideline is missing and must be
pursued so that the comparison of methods, contributions, and
gaps can be more comparable among the community.
Also, some of the authors of this paper are completing a
survey of surveys of research on educational strategies and
practices with immersive learning environments, which will
provide another early contribution to the trunk of the Knowledge
Tree. Also adding soon to the trunk will be the initial set of
expert input, the first State of XR and Immersive Learning report
to be published in March 2021, providing identification of
technological, pedagogical, and other innovations in the field,
along with the major opportunities and challenges related to
their adoption and implementation. Our plan is to perform a
comprehensive scoping review of the field on educational uses,
strategies and practices with immersive learning environments,
which will also add to the trunk of the Knowledge Tree, and to
disseminate a call for proposals for scoping and systematic
literature reviews on a diverse array of topics that will also
strengthen and broaden the Knowledge Tree trunk.
VI. CONCLUSION
The main contribution of this paper is providing a rationale
for three objectives: 1) Developing common scientific
terminology amidst the community of researchers; 2)
Cultivating a common understanding of methodology, and 3)
Advancing common use of theoretical approaches, frameworks,
and models. As stated above, the perspective of the field of
immersive learning research is in a state of confusion, with
current knowledge partially disjointed, specifically among
different disciplines. As a result, researchers who are exploring
the field struggle to combine their efforts with others. The
Knowledge Tree concept is an initial effort at bringing together
the researchers and knowledge involved in this broad and
diverse discipline, and just as in the cultivation of a real tree,
future efforts will be needed to clarify concepts, prune
355
ineffective approaches, and fertilize new opportunities for
growth. We have provided a framework for systematizing this
field, enabling to combine the efforts of scholars and
practitioners. By articulating the various aspects of this
framework with the metaphor of a tree, soil, and birds, we hope
to have established conditions - seeding, as it may - for
development of a robust knowledge base and methodological
toolbox for immersive learning. Its aims are to promote
evidence-informed practice and guide future research in the
field.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
We would like to thank Demetrius Lacet for his design work
on the Immersive Learning Knowledge Tree diagram.
REFERENCES
[1] L. Morgado and D. Beck, “Unifying Protocols for Conducting Systematic
Scoping Reviews with Application to Immersive Learning Research,” in
2020 6th International Conference of the Immersive Learning Research
Network (iLRN), San Luis Obispo, CA, USA, Jun. 2020, pp. 155162,
doi: 10.23919/iLRN47897.2020.9155093.
[2] J. H. Murray, Hamlet on the holodeck: the future of narrative in
cyberspace. New York, NY: Free Press, 1997.
[3] M. Slater, “Place illusion and plausibility can lead to realistic behaviour
in immersive virtual environments,” Philos. Trans. R. Soc. B Biol. Sci.,
vol. 364, no. 1535, pp. 35493557, Dec. 2009, doi:
10.1098/rstb.2009.0138.
[4] B. G. Witmer and M. J. Singer, “Measuring Presence in Virtual
Environments: A Presence Questionnaire,” Presence Teleoperators
Virtual Environ., vol. 7, no. 3, pp. 225240, Jun. 1998, doi:
10.1162/105474698565686.
[5] N. C. Nilsson, R. Nordahl, and S. Serafin, “Immersion Revisited: A
review of existing definitions of immersion and their relation to different
theories of presence,” Hum. Technol., vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 108134, Nov.
2016, doi: 10.17011/ht/urn.201611174652.
[6] D. Beck, L. Morgado, and P. O’Shea, “Finding the Gaps about Uses of
Immersive Learning Environments: A Survey of Surveys,” J. Univers.
Comput. Sci., vol. 26, no. 8, pp. 10431073, 2020.
[7] E. Adams, Fundamentals of game design, Third edition. Berkeley, CA:
New Riders, 2014.
[8] M. Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: the psychology of happiness, Reprinted.
London: Rider, 1997.
[9] M. Lombard and T. Ditton, “At the Heart of It All: The Concept of
Presence,” J. Comput.-Mediat. Commun., vol. 3, no. 2.
[10] F. Biocca, “Cyborg’s Dilemma: Progressive Embodiment in Virtual
Environments,” J. Comput.-Mediat. Commun., vol. 3, no. 2..
[11] M. Slater, “A note on presence terminology,” Presence Connect, vol. 3,
no. 3, pp. 15, 2003.
[12] E. L. Waterworth and J. A. Waterworth, “Focus, Locus, and Sensus: The
Three Dimensions of Virtual Experience,” Cyberpsychol. Behav., vol. 4,
no. 2, pp. 203213, Apr. 2001, doi: 10.1089/109493101300117893.
[13] G. Riva, J. A. Waterworth, and E. L. Waterworth, “The Layers of
Presence: A Bio-cultural Approach to Understanding Presence in Natural
and Mediated Environments,” Cyberpsychol. Behav., vol. 7, no. 4, pp.
402416, Aug. 2004, doi: 10.1089/cpb.2004.7.402.
[14] S. Agrawal, A. Simon, and S. Bech, “Defining Immersion: Literature
Review and Implications for Research on Immersive Audiovisual
Experiences,” in 147th AES Pro Audio International Convention, New
York, 2019, p. 14.
[15] Committee on How People Learn II: The Science and Practice of
Learning, Board on Behavioral, Cognitive, and Sensory Sciences, Board
on Science Education, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and
Education, and National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and
Medicine, How People Learn II: Learners, Contexts, and Cultures.
Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press, 2018.
[16] A. Dengel and J. Magdefrau, “Immersive Learning Explored: Subjective
and Objective Factors Influencing Learning Outcomes in Immersive
Educational Virtual Environments,” in 2018 IEEE International
Conference on Teaching, Assessment, and Learning for Engineering
(TALE), Wollongong, NSW, Dec. 2018, pp. 608615, doi:
10.1109/TALE.2018.8615281.
[17] S. L. Pressey, “A machine for automatic teaching of drill material.,” Sch.
Soc., 1927.
[18] S. Papert, “Information technology and education: Computer criticism vs.
technocentric thinking,” Educ. Res., vol. 16, no. 1, pp. 2230, 1987.
[19] G. Fitzgerald, “Evaluating Information Systems Projects: A
Multidimensional Approach,” J. Inf. Technol., vol. 13, no. 1, pp. 1527,
Mar. 1998, doi: 10.1177/026839629801300102.
[20] M. Vaismoradi, J. Jones, H. Turunen, and S. Snelgrove, “Theme
development in qualitative content analysis and thematic analysis,” J.
Nurs. Educ. Pract., vol. 6, no. 5, p. p100, Jan. 2016, doi:
10.5430/jnep.v6n5p100.
[21] H. Gaspar, L. Morgado, H. São Mamede, B. Manjón, and C. Gütl,
“Identifying immersive environments’ most relevant research topics: an
instrument to query researchers and practitioners,” in iLRN 2018
Montana. Workshop, Long and Short Paper, and Poster Proceedings
from the Fourth Immersive Learning Research Network Conference,
2018, pp. 4871.
[22] M. Akçayır and G. Akçayır, “Advantages and challenges associated with
augmented reality for education: A systematic review of the literature,”
Educ. Res. Rev., vol. 20, pp. 111, Feb. 2017, doi:
10.1016/j.edurev.2016.11.002.
[23] J. Bacca, S. Badiris, R. Fabregat, and S. Graf, “Augmented reality trends
in education: a systematic review of research and applications,” J. Ed.
Tech. Soc., vol. 17, no. 4, p. 133-149, 2014.
[24] H. Gaspar, L. Morgado, H. Mamede, T. Oliveira, B. Manjón, and C. Gütl,
“Research priorities in immersive learning technology: the perspectives
of the iLRN community,” Virtual Real., vol. 24, pp. 319341, 2020, doi:
10.1007/s10055-019-00393-x.
[25] M. J. W. Lee, M. Georgieva, B. Alexander, E. Craig, and J. Richter, The
State of XR and Immersive Learning Outlook Report: 2020 Edition -
Executive Summary, Immersive Learning Research Network, Missoula,
MT, USA. [Online]. Available: https://immersivelrn.org/wp-
content/uploads/State-of-XR-Outlook-Report-_-Executive-
Summary.pdf.
356
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The progress of immersive learning research as a field requires a clear vision of its status, of the current knowledge being produced and of the open problems and gaps. Typical survey efforts however suffer from lack of systematization, providing a scattered perspective of the field. We have combined the literature on conducting systematic scoping reviews and applied it to the field, presenting the resulting protocol. It contributes a clarification on the sequence of steps and processes for delineating a gap, finding the evidence and depart from it to conduct literature reviews.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The use of the term “immersion” to describe a multitude of varying experiences in the absence of a definitional consensus has obfuscated and diluted the term. This paper presents a non-exhaustive review of previous work on immersion on the basis of which a definition of immersion is proposed: a state of deep mental involvement in which the subject may experience disassociation from the awareness of the physical world due to a shift in their attentional state. This definition is used to contrast and differentiate interchangeably used terms such as presence and envelopment from immersion. Additionally, an overview of prevailing measurement techniques, implications for research on immersive audiovisual experiences, and avenues for future work are discussed briefly.
Article
Full-text available
This paper presents the perspectives of the immersive learning research network community on the relevance of various challenges to the adoption of immersive learning technology, along three dimensions: access, content production, and deployment. Using a previously validated questionnaire, we surveyed this community of 622 researchers and practitioners during the summer of 2018, attaining 54 responses. By ranking the challenges individually and within each dimension, the results point towards higher relevance being placed on aspects that link immersive environments with learning management systems and pedagogical tasks, alongside aspects that empower non-technical users (educational actors) to produce interactive stories, objects, and characters.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Recent studies in Immersive Learning show that different factors influence the learning outcomes in Educational Virtual Environments (EVEs). An underlying theory about learning in EVEs from an educational perspective is yet lacking. To enhance immersive learning research, a systematic framework of immersive learning processes as a theoretic foundation is required in order to appropriately discuss these processes. This paper summarizes the factors influencing learning in EVEs and introduces their localization in the Helmkes’ pedagogical supply-use-model. Presence as the subjective feeling of “being there” is emphasized as the central criterion influencing immersive learning. Presence is influenced by objective and subjective factors. The objective factors which are provided by the technology are summarized under the term immersion; the subjective factors consist of the motivational, cognitive, and the emotional factors. They are summarized as (immersive) learning potential. The localization of these predictor variables of learning outcome in Helmke’s supply-use-model results in the educational framework for immersive learning (EFiL), which provides an educational understanding of immersive learning as “learning activities initiated by a mediated or medially enriched environment that evokes a sense of presence”. It constitutes a first educational reflection of immersive learning processes which has to be pursued and evaluated by empirical research.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
This paper provides an instrument for ascertaining researchers' perspectives on the relative relevance of technological challenges facing immersive environments in view of their adoption in learning contexts, along three dimensions: access, content production, and deployment. It described its theoretical grounding and expert-review process, from a set of previously-identified challenges and expert feedback cycles. The paper details the motivation, setup, and methods employed, as well as the issues detected in the cycles and how they were addressed while developing the instrument. As a research instrument, it aims to be employed across diverse communities of research and practice, helping direct research efforts and hence contribute to wider use of immersive environments in learning, and possibly contribute towards the development of news and more adequate systems.
Article
Full-text available
The term immersion continues to be applied inconsistently within and across different fields of research connected with the study of virtual reality and interactive media. Moreover, immersion is oftentimes used interchangeably with the terms presence and engagement. This article details a review of existing definitions of immersion originating within the study of video games, virtual environments, and literary works of fiction. Based on this review, a three-dimensional taxonomy of the various conceptualizations of immersion is proposed. That is, the existing definitions of immersion may be broadly divided into three categories, each representing a dimension of the taxonomy: immersion as a property of a system, a subjective response to narrative contents, or a subjective response to challenges within the virtual environment. Finally, four distinct theories of presence are introduced and, based on the established taxonomy, we discuss how the individual theories relate to existing definitions of immersion.
Article
Full-text available
Sufficient knowledge is available about the definition, details and differences of qualitative content and thematic analysis as two approaches of qualitative descriptive research. However, identifying the main features of theme as the data analysis product and the method of its development remain unclear. The purpose of this study was to describe the meaning of theme and offer a method on theme construction that can be used by qualitative content analysis and thematic analysis researchers in line with the underpinning specific approach to data analysis. This methodological paper comprises an analytical overview of qualitative descriptive research products and the meaning of theme. Also, our practical experiences of qualitative analysis supported by relevant published literature informed the generation of a stage like model of theme construction for qualitative content analysis and thematic analysis. This paper comprises: (i) analytical importance of theme, (ii) meaning of theme, (iii) meaning of category, (iv) theme and category in terms of level of content, and (v) theme development. This paper offers a conceptual clarification and a pragmatic step by step method of theme development that has the capacity of assisting nurse researchers understand how theme is developed. As nursing is a pragmatic discipline, nurse researchers have tried to develop practical findings and devise some way to “do something” with findings to enhance the action and impact of nursing. The application of a precise method of theme development for qualitative descriptive data analysis suggested in this paper helps yield meaningful, credible and practical results for nursing.
Article
Full-text available
In recent years, there has been an increasing interest in applying Augmented Reality (AR) to create unique educational settings. So far, however, there is a lack of review studies with focus on investigating factors such as: the uses, advantages, limitations, effectiveness, challenges and features of augmented reality in educational settings. Personalization for promoting an inclusive learning using AR is also a growing area of interest. This paper reports a systematic review of literature on augmented reality in educational settings considering the factors mentioned before. In total, 32 studies published between 2003 and 2013 in 6 indexed journals were analyzed. The main findings from this review provide the current state of the art on research in AR in education. Furthermore, the paper discusses trends and the vision towards the future and opportunities for further research in augmented reality for educational settings.
Article
Evaluation of IS/IT investments is a notoriously difficult area. Some doubt that IT investments are ever really productive; others point to mismeasurement as a major reason for such a conclusion and for the so-called IT ‘productivity paradox’. The paper reviews traditional approaches to IS/IT evaluation, and discusses their limitations. An eight-stage, multidimensional approach is then put forward to address those limitations.
Article
This study presents a systematic review of the literature on augmented reality (AR) used in educational settings. We consider factors such as publication year, learner type (e.g., K-12, higher education, and adult), technologies in AR, and the advantages and challenges of using AR in educational settings. The full range of SSCI journals was surveyed and a total of 68 research articles were selected for analysis. The findings reveal an increase in the number of AR studies during the last four years. The most reported advantage of AR is that it promotes enhanced learning achievement. Some noted challenges imposed by AR are usability issues and frequent technical problems. We found several other challenges and numerous advantages of AR usage, which are discussed in detail. In addition, current gaps in AR research and needs in the field are identified, and suggestions are offered for future research.