This is the first in a series of probably (okay, undoubtedly) sporadic posts following the process of learning, stumbling and recovering on my PhD journey.
It’s probably helpful to start out with an idea of what I’m hoping to achieve, so in a nutshell, here’s a bit of background.
My research area is immersive virtual reality (iVR) in higher education contexts. I will be looking at the state-of-the-art of the current research field, identifying the research gaps and carrying out studies to test the ideas I develop. My particular interests are around:
- The impact of interactivity on feelings of presence and learning outcomes
- Novelty effects on learning outcomes
- Terminology and definitions – the taxonomy of modern iVR
- Pedagogical approaches to developing iVR for learning
I’m working on a part-time basis alongside full-time work, so I’m hoping to be able to fit in some longitudinal research. Once I have a solid basis for a full-scale intervention, I hope to be able to conduct a study in a curriculum context. One of the challenges in the literature at present is the lack of this type of contextual setting, with most studies investigating unoptimised and short experiences with a limited range of interactions, in a population unmatched to the level or subject area of the learning material.
If you’d like to read more about the research gaps in this field, you can see my recent contribution to the Media & Learning blog, ‘Choosing a research path into XR for education’.
Other development areas
Alongside the research aspect of this PhD, I’ll also be developing the iVR materials I’ll be working with in experiments. This will involve working in Unity and C#, and probably some Blender modelling as well. I plan on making some screencap videos to chart aspects of this process, and the challenges it will bring.
I’m completely new to VR development, and am not an experienced programmer, so it ought to be a fun ride. So far, I’ll admit to feeling a little overwhelmed by it, but equally the bits I have done so far have been absorbing and rewarding.