Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

XR (Extended Reality) to learn global challenges

Development of effective VR training for International Law of Armed Conflict (ILAC)

2023 - 2028
Joy Lee

Learning about global challenges (e.g., international humanitarian laws) is becoming more essential in higher education. However, the gap between the knowledge they acquire in the classroom and the application they should perform in the workplace is reportedly substantial. To bridge this gap, using simulation-based learning environments such as XR (Extended Reality) becomes vital. By replicating real-world workplaces, XR provides safe environments for learners to practice real-life problem-solving through diverse scenarios (e.g., applying humanitarian laws in towns under occupation). Moreover, the XR experience can be shared with multiple learners online or offline, which can be easily integrated with small-group discussions at LUC. From a global perspective, the use of XR to connect educational infrastructure across countries will democratize the availability of quality education across borders.

In this project, we 1) develop guidelines for XR training by using empirical research tools (e.g., eye-tracking, machine learning), 2) customize XR scenarios to learn global challenges in collaboration with the International Red Cross Committee, and 3) foster local and international networks to grow together and share the research outcomes. Technological and industrial sectors (e.g., XR companies, eye-tracking software companies) are also involved in disseminating the knowledge to society.

Virtual Reality (VR) provides potential learning environments for higher education. It simulates real-life scenarios where learners can practice real-life problem-solving skills in an immersive yet safe environments.

More importantly, VR experience can be shared with multiple learners online or offline, which allows for teamwork skill training. This can be extended to global online network between international institutes, facilitating global teamwork experience and inclusive learning. However, to date, how and when to use VR to make learning effective is not fully understood. Educators should first define a set of learning goals in a given domain, then determine which tools to use to reach these goals, within a structured instructional design. To address this issue, this project has five goals: 1) It establishes an instructional design that makes VR learning effective, 2) By using this instructional design, the effects of VR learning on learning are validated through empirical studies, 3) Effective indicators of performance and learning in VR will be developed, 4) It provides insights on how to use VR learning environments to support students to improve 21st century skills such as problem-solving, teamwork, and inclusion, 5) By demonstrating the application of VR learning to a specific domain, namely, International Law of Armed Conflict, it provides a promising ground for further application to other domains of global challenges.

The outcomes of this projects are expected to directly propel our adaptation to the new norms and the actual use of VR training.

More importantly, from a global perspective, the use of VR to connect educational infrastructure across countries will democratize the availability of quality education across borders. In concert with curriculum designers at LUC, the guidelines for VR learning will be applied as blended learning and problem-based learning. For instance, to teach ILAC, a customized VR scenario will be developed and used online and offline. A large screen in a classroom shares what learners are experiencing in VR. In small groups, students discuss on problems with peers during pauses, and they take turns leading the scenario by applying the found solutions in real-time. At home, students can repeatedly practice difficult phases using online access. The research outcome dissemination will be spurred by publishing peer-reviewed articles and presenting in conferences. Paper presentations or symposia will be organized in EARLI (European Association of Research on Learning and Instruction), AERA (American Education Research Association), in 2023 and further. In ICLTC (International Cognitive Load Theory Conference), application of cognitive load theory to VR learning will be further elaborated. In ECEM (European Conference on Eye Movements), methodological aspects of eye-tracking in VR will be focused.

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