Educational Virtual Environments

Mikrapoulous, T. A. & Natsis, A. (2010) Educational learning environments: A ten year review of empirical research. Computers & Education. pp. 769 – 780.

This article synthesizes over fifty research studies regarding virtual reality (VR) in education. In addition, Mikrapoulous and Natsis research over ten years of various VR studies to develop pertinent research and implications regarding the current success and potential of VR in the future. This study primarily discusses the success of math and science domains in the field of VR. Educational Virtual Environments (EVE) provide an innovative environment for students to be immersed in a VE that they would not typically have access to in a traditional brick and mortar setting. The primary pedagogical strategies that are consistent across most of the studies are constructivism, real world scenarios, collaboration and access to a variety of virtual realities. Avatars are popular among video game enthusiasts. This study focuses on allowing instructors and learners to be avatars in Educational Virtual Environments (EVE), and examines the learning acquisition that occurs in VEs.

This study is significant to the field of educational technology since it provides a variety of scholarly research regarding how learners currently optimize VEs, and the potential for even higher levels of implementation in the future. This research is especially pertinent to the fields of math and science since they require scaffolding, abstract cognitive skills and spatial knowledge. According to Mikropoulos and Natsis, (2010) “In Crosier et al. (2000), pupils learn about radioactivity by making experiments in a virtual laboratory, which resembles a real one.” (p. 775) Radioactivity, physics, engineering, technology and abstract mathematical concepts can be more clearly conveyed in a VE compared to traditional brick and mortar settings. The haptic component of EVEs appeals to multimodal learners, which increases learning acquisition for a larger variety of students. Therefore, future research of EVEs and Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPCK) professional development for instructors can optimize and assist in enhancing the body of knowledge regarding educational technology.

My career as an educator spans elementary education, adult education and eLearning. This article shares that most of the research regarding EVEs emphasizes application of math and science concepts. EVEs can definitely help students’ cognition of spatial and abstract thinking that are required in many math and science concepts. In addition, various domains of education can benefit from real world experiences and the higher levels of interactivity that are provided in EVEs. Future research can continue to enhance the TPCK of EVEs, which can lead to the facilitation of enhanced learning acquisition of learners.

Related Article:

Chao, J., Chiu, J. Crystal, J. E & Pan, E. (2016) Sensor-Augmented virtual labs: Using physical interactions with science simulations to promote understanding of gas behavior. Journal of Science Education and Technology. Vol. 25 No. 1 pp. 16-33




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