3D Travel Techniques for Virtual Reality Cyberlearning Systems
Cyberlearning is the use of new technology to create effective learning experiences that were never possible or practical before. Among those technologies, virtual reality (VR) attracts many people’s attention and interests in creating cyberlearning systems. The underlying simulations of VR can provide experiences that are realistic, controllable, flexible, and repeatable, which make VR an ideal tool for cyberlearning and confer a wide range of benefits. Since consumer-level VR equipment becomes accessible in recent years, allowing people to have easy access to immersive experiences at a much lower cost, it is more feasible for companies and entities to adopt VR for their training needs. Therefore, it is worthwhile to investigate how to make VR cyberlearning systems more effective and efficient. Previous research efforts have been made in reducing the cognitive load of using VR techniques and improving the training results by allowing the trainees to focus more on the training tasks. In this dissertation, a standardized methodology is proposed to evaluate 3D travel techniques to guide the design of VR cyberlearning systems. 3D travel techniques are often included in VR cyberlearning systems for navigating the virtual world. While different travel techniques vary in the level of difficulty to learn and use, the cognitive load to the users is also different. Since learning and using the travel technique is usually not related to the learning goal, the cognitive load of using 3D travel techniques should be reduced as much as possible to increase the effectiveness of VR cyberlearning. In addition to the cognitive load, there are also many other factors that affect a user’s subjective opinion and objective performance, such as simulator sickness, sense of presence and perceived usability. Therefore, it is necessary to evaluate different 3D travel techniques based on those factors and figure out what is essential to help to improve the effectiveness of VR cyberlearning systems. The goal of this dissertation is to provide a systematic approach of evaluating 3D travel techniques, gain a better understanding of how 3D travel interaction design affects cyberlearning systems in terms of effectiveness and usability, and develop guidelines for selecting 3D travel techniques for VR cyberlearning systems. A dual-task methodology has been proposed for comparing different 3D travel techniques, which includes a cognitive task based on the n-back test and a travel task based on the Fitts’ Law task. With this methodology, we’ve conducted a series of studies to evaluate 3D travel techniques from different categories. With these evaluations and results, we have validated the usefulness of the proposed methodology, gained knowledge about the pros and cons of many common 3D travel techniques, and summarized a set of design guidelines that can be helpful for future VR cyberlearning system design.