Designing for Motivation and Usability in a Museum-Based Multi-User Virtual Environment
Dede, Chris, Diane Ketelhut and Kevin Ruess
This National Science Foundation (NSF) funded research project is creating and evaluating graphical multi-user virtual environments (MUVEs) that use digitized museum resources to enhance middle school students' motivation and learning about science and its impacts on society. MUVEs enable multiple simultaneous participants to access virtual contexts, to interact with digital artifacts, to represent themselves through “avatars,” to communicate with other participants and with computer-based agents, and to enact collaborative learning activities of various types. Initially, MUVEs were based only on textual descriptions); now, many MUVEs are graphical in nature, or use graphics to enhance textual descriptions. Our project's educational environments are extending current MUVE capabilities in order to study the science learning potential of immersive simulations, interactive virtual museum exhibits, and 'participatory' historical situations (http://www.virtual.gmu.edu/muvees/). To accomplish this, we have built our own MUVE shell based on the Sense8 WorldToolKit (http://www.sense8.com/).