Enabling exploratory learning through virtual fieldwork
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This dissertation presents a framework which supports a group-based exploratory approach to learning and integrates 3D gaming methods and technologies with an institutional learning environment. This provides learners with anytime-anywhere access to interactive learning materials, thereby supporting a self paced and personalised approach to learning. A simulation environment based on real world data has been developed, with a computer games methodology adopted as the means by which users are able to progress through the system. Within a virtual setting users, or groups of users, are faced with a series of dynamic challenges with which they engage until such time as they have shown a certain level of competence. Once a series of domain specific objectives have been met, users are able to progress forward to the next level of the simulation. Through the use of Internet and 3D visualisation technologies, an excavation simulator has been developed which provides the opportunity for students to engage in a virtual excavation project, applying their knowledge and reflecting on the outcomes of their decisions. The excavation simulator enhances the student learning experience by providing opportunities for students to engage with the archaeological excavation process in a customisable, virtual environment. Not only does this provide students with an opportunity to put some of the theories they are familiar with into practice, but it also allows for archaeology courses to place a greater emphasis on the practical application of knowledge that occurs during the excavation process. Laconia Acropolis Virtual Archaeology (LAVA) is a co-operative exploratory learning environment that addresses the need for students to engage with archaeological excavation scenarios. By leveraging the immersive nature of gaming technologies and 3D multi-user virtual environments (MUVEs), LAVA facilitates the adoption of exploratory learning practices in environments which have previously been inaccessible due to barriers of space, time or cost.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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