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Lynda Davies
10 June 2010

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Lynda Davies
10:27am 10 June 2010 (Edited 8:24am 8 July 2010)

3-D Immersive Environments for Teaching Science

I thought it was quite interesting, but I would have liked more focus on the 'immersiveness' of 3D environments.  E.g. what makes an experience 'immersive' in the first place, and why is that a desirable thing?  What kind of research has been done into the pedagogical impact of such environments?  I felt that the speaker spent a bit too much time showing us what his different applications did and I would have preferred more of a discussion of these issues.  But it was interesting to learn more about the processing and rendering issues, etc. that appear figure foremost in the minds of 3D designers.

As usual, the event was very well run and managed!


Robert Farrow (IET)
A well-organised event. The early morning tea/coffee was very welcoming.
Overall the talk was interesting and I could see clear links with the work that I am carrying out in Second Life. However, the talk was perhaps a little too technical at times and if some initial contexualisation was done on how the concepts fit within learning and teaching, it would have helped.
But overall a very inspiring talk and lot of thoughtful research and hard work has gone in to make something quite complex - very engaging for the students to learn.
Shailey Minocha (MCT)
Computer graphics aside, we haven't come a huge way in the last decade in our thinking about immersing students in a virtual laboratory. The emphasis is still on undertaking standard experiments. What's the reason for that? Sadly we didn't get any insight into this during Rob Lucas's talk, which was essentially a canter through the foothills of computer graphics. Where was the 'application and its evaluation' that we were promised?

There is much still to be done to establish the educational value of practical work and a significant need to challenge many of the traditional assumptions about doing experiments. Clearly graphics can play a large part in making particular virtual experiences more effective but we must go much deeper than this into our underlying pedagogy.

Mark Endean (MCT)
An interesting session … it certainly sparked ideas for use in the CPD arena with some very nice demos of what could be achieved by the techniques. The old adage of a picture being worth a 1000 words is rejuvenated with 3-D! The possibilities for ‘learning by doing’ – of being able to mix physical action with theoretical reaction is full of potential, as are the possibilities for conditioning physical responses to changing conditions. There are questions to ask though … one is to do with the veracity of the 3-D reality that is being presented for the learner to experience – how like any reality is it that they are likely to experience outside of the course? Is it a course objective that the student learns to manipulate a 3-D environment or that they learn what the same manipulation would do in reality? A year down the line, should the student be able to recall what happens when they twiddle their mouse on a 3-D mock-up or the theory explaining the experiment? As with many ICT-enabled opportunities, much thought needs to be given to what learning is being facilitated. 

As to the presentation – I found that I had to do a lot of work understanding what was going on (all those years in computing and IET helped me there!), some of the jargon and acronyms got in the way. Possibly for a general audience it would have been a bit difficult which was a pity because I think the idea of 3-D Immersive Environments could benefit lots of courses. It would have been nice to have been given some idea of the possibilities / likelihood of this sort of technique entering the repertoire of general course production – I wasn’t sure who they were done for – was it Science or the PiCETL?

Still – looking forward to the next Coffee morning!

Simon Rae (CPLD)
This is the first time that I came to IET Technology Coffee Morning hoping to learn something new and exciting that might help us (Science Faculty) to understand what is possible to do when developing a new “virtual” residential course (S288). The meeting fulfilled all my expectations; that is it confirmed that the possibilities are enormous but, at the same time, almost prohibitively expensive.

Dr Lucas did an excellent job taking us slowly through the world of 3D environment for teaching science; hence asked one of my colleagues (Dr Mark Hirst) to contact him as soon as possible.

The whole event was very useful for me and I would appreciate receiving more info on your activities in the future.

Best wishes

Radmila Mileusnic (Faculty of Sciences)


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