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Virtual and Augmented Reality Learning Environments for Sustainable Development

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2021) | Viewed by 33886

Special Issue Editor


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Guest Editor
Technology, Instruction and Design in Engineering and Education Research Group (TiDEE.rg), Catholic University of Ávila, C/Canteros s/n, 05005 Ávila, Spain
Interests: technology enhanced learning; virtual learning environments; virtual reality; augmented reality; metallography; material characterization; mechanical properties; mechanical behavior of materials; mechanical testing; materials testing; stress and strain analysis; fracture mechanics; fractography; corrosion science; failure analysis; fatigue; finite element analysis; nuclear energy; energy efficiency
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Special Issue Information

Dear colleagues,

In recent years, the application of virtual and augmented reality learning environments is increasing both in general education (primary, secondary, and university studies) and in technical education in industrial or professional fields. In addition, the current epidemiological situation regarding COVID-19 has encouraged the adoption of non-formal education and, as current developments indicate, it seems likely that distance learning will gain more weight in the near future. Therefore, new applications based on virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality (MR) are expected to emerge in the coming years to facilitate students' self-study, provide extensive practical work opportunities, or even teach theoretical content. These new educational challenges generate a high level of expectation in institutions and individuals, while inviting a reflective critique on the social impacts of these new approaches and educational resources, to assess the added value and benefits of virtual environments for the learners and communities. Furthermore, the use of VR, AR, and MR applications in the field of education is embedded in the global debate on the effects of emerging technologies on education in general, and on education for sustainable development in particular.

This Special Issue is open to submissions of original articles, literature reviews, case reports, or short communications, subject to a rigorous peer review, covering the design of new VR, AR, or MR learning environments to cope with the new epidemiological situation that is expected to consolidate teleworking, thereby improving sustainable development. We warmly invite researchers to submit their contributions to this Special Issue. Potential topics include but are not limited to the following:

  • Non-immersive virtual reality
  • Immersive virtual reality
  • Augmented reality
  • Mixed reality
  • XReality
  • VR/AR/MR collaboration
  • Education with VR/AR/MR
  • Use 360° video for VR
  • Instruction of qualified staff through VR/AR/MR applications
  • Virtual laboratories
  • Virtual reality systems
  • Virtual reality tools and toolkits
  • 3D Interactive environments

Dr. Diego Vergara
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Virtual reality
  • Augmented reality
  • Mixed reality
  • Learning environments
  • Sustainable development

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

17 pages, 284 KiB  
Article
Towards a More Socially Sustainable Advanced Pilot Training by Integrating Wearable Augmented Reality Devices
by Birgit Moesl, Harald Schaffernak, Wolfgang Vorraber, Michael Holy, Thomas Herrele, Reinhard Braunstingl and Ioana Victoria Koglbauer
Sustainability 2022, 14(4), 2220; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14042220 - 15 Feb 2022
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 2453
Abstract
For flying all types of turbine-engine airplanes, a pilot must undergo an intense type rating (TR) course. This study investigated the learning conditions and TR course content, and specifies the most difficult course elements that could be tackled by augmented reality (AR) applications. [...] Read more.
For flying all types of turbine-engine airplanes, a pilot must undergo an intense type rating (TR) course. This study investigated the learning conditions and TR course content, and specifies the most difficult course elements that could be tackled by augmented reality (AR) applications. Because women are underrepresented in the worldwide pilot population, it is important to address gender-specific preferences and needs in the development of AR-based wearable technologies for advanced pilot training. A gender-sensitive survey of the learning conditions and course contents was conducted with 31 pilots and 22 instructors. Despite many similarities, the results confirm that there are gender-specific needs and preferences for the development of future AR-based applications for TR training. In addition, the views of both pilots’ and instructors’ are required to obtain a comprehensive assessment of the learning contents and conditions related to TR. The results also show that time pressure increased the perceived difficulty of the course for some trainees. These results are important because they indicate the directions to be taken in developing future AR-based training applications for a more learner-centered and inclusive TR training. Future directions to foster a socially sustainable development of AR-based training means for TR with special focus on gender diversity are presented. Full article
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22 pages, 4426 KiB  
Article
Assessment of Virtual Reality as a Didactic Resource in Higher Education
by Diego Vergara, Álvaro Antón-Sancho, Jamil Extremera and Pablo Fernández-Arias
Sustainability 2021, 13(22), 12730; https://doi.org/10.3390/su132212730 - 17 Nov 2021
Cited by 25 | Viewed by 3235
Abstract
Given that the university teachers with more experience in the use of virtual reality are those corresponding to the areas of Health Sciences and of Engineering and Architecture, this article analyzes the assessment these teachers make about virtual reality as a teaching resource [...] Read more.
Given that the university teachers with more experience in the use of virtual reality are those corresponding to the areas of Health Sciences and of Engineering and Architecture, this article analyzes the assessment these teachers make about virtual reality as a teaching resource in their respective disciplines. The study uses a questionnaire that assesses the technical aspects and future projection of virtual reality, its drawbacks and the perception of the different dimensions of the participants’ knowledge about virtual reality and its didactic employability. The questionnaire was answered by a sample of 423 university teachers of different genders, ages, academic level and teaching experience, whose teaching activity is developed in various Latin American universities in the area of Health Sciences or in the area of Engineering/Architecture. Their answers have been analyzed descriptively and Spearman’s r statistics and the Multifactor ANOVA test have been used to verify the existence of significant differences in their evaluations for the different variables considered, cross-referencing them with the field of knowledge. Within the main results, gaps by area, years of teaching experience and academic level in the participants’ evaluations have been identified and discussed. Full article
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17 pages, 8456 KiB  
Article
Development of Virtual Reality Automotive Lab for Training in Engineering Students
by Macaria Hernández-Chávez, José M. Cortés-Caballero, Ángel A. Pérez-Martínez, Luis F. Hernández-Quintanar, Karen Roa-Tort, Josué D. Rivera-Fernández and Diego A. Fabila-Bustos
Sustainability 2021, 13(17), 9776; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13179776 - 31 Aug 2021
Cited by 25 | Viewed by 5383
Abstract
A Virtual Reality application was developed to be used as an immersive virtual learning strategy for Oculus Rift S Virtual Reality glasses and through Leap Motion Controller™ infrared sensors, focused on students of the Automotive Systems Engineering academic program, as a practical teaching-learning [...] Read more.
A Virtual Reality application was developed to be used as an immersive virtual learning strategy for Oculus Rift S Virtual Reality glasses and through Leap Motion Controller™ infrared sensors, focused on students of the Automotive Systems Engineering academic program, as a practical teaching-learning tool in the context of Education 4.0 and the pandemic caused by COVID-19 that has kept schools closed since March 2020. The technological pillars of Industry 4.0 were used to profile students so that they can meet the demands of their professional performance at the industrial level. Virtual Reality (VR) plays a very important role for the production-engineering sector in areas such as design and autonomous cars, as well as in training and driving courses. The VR application provides the student with a more immersive and interactive experience, supported by 3D models of both the main parts that make up the four-stroke combustion engine and the mechanical workshop scenario; it allows the student to manipulate the main parts of the four-stroke combustion engine through the Oculus Rift S controls and the Leap Motion Controller™ infrared sensors, and relate them to the operation of the engine, through the animation of its operation and the additional information shown for each part that makes it up in the application. Full article
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22 pages, 6737 KiB  
Article
3D Interactive Learning Environment as a Tool for Knowledge Transfer and Retention
by Martin Krajčovič, Gabriela Gabajová, Marián Matys, Patrik Grznár, Ľuboslav Dulina and Róbert Kohár
Sustainability 2021, 13(14), 7916; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13147916 - 15 Jul 2021
Cited by 20 | Viewed by 3938
Abstract
The article deals with the design of virtual reality (VR) interactive training as a teaching method and its effect on knowledge transfer and retention of students. The first part presents the methodology of the VR interactive training design. The second part utilizes the [...] Read more.
The article deals with the design of virtual reality (VR) interactive training as a teaching method and its effect on knowledge transfer and retention of students. The first part presents the methodology of the VR interactive training design. The second part utilizes the created interactive training for a case study to evaluate its effect on the teaching process and to examine the potential of VR interactive training as a sustainable teaching method. The study took place at the Department of Industrial Engineering, Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, University of Žilina. Volunteers were divided into two groups. The first group used VR interactive training as a teaching method, while the second group used the conventional method. Both groups then underwent tests. The main goal was to evaluate the effect of the VR interactive training on the teaching process in comparison to the conventional method while trying to identify the key elements of the VR interactive training design and its influence on knowledge transfer and retention in a sustainable learning environment. At the start of the case study, four hypotheses were formed, questioning the effect of interactive training on knowledge transfer and retention in the long and short term, and its overall influence on the teaching process. Obtained data were then used to evaluate these hypotheses. Full article
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20 pages, 8252 KiB  
Article
Development of a Virtual Ecological Environment for Learning the Taipei Tree Frog
by Kuo-Liang Ou, Yao-Hui Liu and Wernhuar Tarng
Sustainability 2021, 13(11), 5911; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13115911 - 24 May 2021
Cited by 12 | Viewed by 3083
Abstract
The learning objectives of environmental education emphasize investigation in real life to enhance students’ skills and experiences in solving practical problems. This study used the virtual reality (VR) technology to develop a virtual ecological environment for learning about the Taipei tree frog, supported [...] Read more.
The learning objectives of environmental education emphasize investigation in real life to enhance students’ skills and experiences in solving practical problems. This study used the virtual reality (VR) technology to develop a virtual ecological environment for learning about the Taipei tree frog, supported by situated learning and game-based learning design to enhance students’ learning interest and motivation. Users can wear the head-mounted display (HMD) to explore the virtual environment for learning the Taipei tree frog’s ecological behavior, such as foraging and mating as well as its habitats and predators. A teaching experiment was conducted to investigate students’ learning effectiveness and the senses of presence and anxiety after using the virtual ecological environment. The experimental group (wearing the HMD) contained 40 students, the control group (using the desktop VR) contained 40 students, and both groups were used as samples to learn about the Taipei tree frog. The results indicated that using HMD VR and desktop VR could both enhance learning achievements, but the learning effectiveness of the former was significantly higher than that of the latter. The levels of anxiety for both groups were about the same, but the level of presence for the experimental group was higher than that of the control group because the HMD VR provided a more immersive experience than the desktop VR. The virtual ecological environment can save the time and effort of travelling to the natural habitat for observing the Taipei tree frog, and the design of role-playing game (RPG) can enhance learners’ interest and motivation. Therefore, it is a useful tool for promoting environmental education. Full article
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30 pages, 865 KiB  
Article
On the Synergy between Virtual Reality and Multi-Agent Systems
by Alejandra Ospina-Bohórquez, Sara Rodríguez-González and Diego Vergara-Rodríguez
Sustainability 2021, 13(8), 4326; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13084326 - 13 Apr 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 3092
Abstract
Multi-agent systems integrate a great variety of artificial intelligence techniques from different fields, these systems have made it possible to create intelligent systems more efficiently. On the other hand, virtual reality applications are accepted as viable techniques in different areas such as visualization, [...] Read more.
Multi-agent systems integrate a great variety of artificial intelligence techniques from different fields, these systems have made it possible to create intelligent systems more efficiently. On the other hand, virtual reality applications are accepted as viable techniques in different areas such as visualization, simulation, design, and research. The combined use of these two technologies has led to the development of realistic and interactive applications. This work aims to do a Systematic Mapping Study (SMS) relying on the guidelines of Kitchenham and Petersen to analyze the state of the art of VR applications using multi-agent systems. Inclusion and exclusion criteria have been applied to identify relevant papers, 82 articles were selected and categorized according to the publication type, the research type, the asset type, and the purpose of the work. A complete review of the 82 selected articles was performed, based on the research questions that were established. This review made it possible to clarify the open lines of research that exist and to know where research in this field can be directed. Full article
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18 pages, 831 KiB  
Article
Cognitive Modifiability in 3D-IVR and 2D Computerized Environments: The Effects of Rotation of Information Resources and Shift of Viewing Angles
by David Tzuriel, Ganit Eshel Kedmi and David Passig
Sustainability 2021, 13(6), 3520; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13063520 - 22 Mar 2021
Viewed by 2359
Abstract
Research findings indicate that cognitive achievements are significantly improved by practice of cognitive abilities in the 3D Immersive Virtual Reality (3D-IVR) environment. The current study focuses on the effects of two spatial characteristics of the computer environment, Rotation of Information Resources (RIR) and [...] Read more.
Research findings indicate that cognitive achievements are significantly improved by practice of cognitive abilities in the 3D Immersive Virtual Reality (3D-IVR) environment. The current study focuses on the effects of two spatial characteristics of the computer environment, Rotation of Information Resources (RIR) and Shift of Viewing Angles (SVA), on cognitive modifiability as measured in a dynamic assessment (DA) procedure. The DA was composed of modified versions of the Analogies Subtest (AN) from the Cognitive Modifiability Battery (CMB) adapted for the computerized environment and includes pre-teaching, teaching, and post-teaching phases. The analogies contain dimensions of color, number, height, and position. In the teaching phase, children mediated various problem-solving strategies. The sample was composed of children in Grades 1 and 2 (n = 73). They were randomly assigned to either 3D-IVR or 2D conditions. Higher frequency of use of SVA contributed significantly to pre- to post-teaching improvement of analogical thinking. Higher improvements were found in dimensions of height and position than in color and number. The dimensions of height and position are specifically connected to spatial perception, hence the higher improvement. The findings are explained in relation to the importance of the use of SVA and RIR as crucial spatial characteristics for developing cognitive maps formation, and cognitive performance. Full article
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14 pages, 3478 KiB  
Article
Socio-Educational Impact of Augmented Reality (AR) in Sustainable Learning Ecologies: A Semantic Modeling Approach
by José Gómez-Galán, Esteban Vázquez-Cano, Antonio Luque de la Rosa and Eloy López-Meneses
Sustainability 2020, 12(21), 9116; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12219116 - 2 Nov 2020
Cited by 12 | Viewed by 3694
Abstract
The current educational processes must be supported by sustainable learning ecologies, where the digitalization of training is enhanced. In this area, augmented reality (AR) plays an important role. It is a technology that for certain educational goals can facilitate the understanding of the [...] Read more.
The current educational processes must be supported by sustainable learning ecologies, where the digitalization of training is enhanced. In this area, augmented reality (AR) plays an important role. It is a technology that for certain educational goals can facilitate the understanding of the course contents and increase the motivation and interest of the student. This research aims to measure the socio-educational impact that AR presents in the teaching processes of university students of social education. These are professionals in training dedicated, precisely, to social and educational actions. In order to reach the pursued objective, an exploratory study of qualitative and descriptive nature was approached from a methodological conception based on the action-research. The study was carried out during three academic courses and consisted of an experience of integration of AR in the classroom in order to determine which applications, and advantages or limitations of a socio-educational nature, were perceived by the participants in that process. The documents generated were analyzed mainly using semantic methods. The main results were that AR is positive overall for its use in learning processes and, specifically in its field, optimal for the development of professional skills within the framework of social education. As to benefits, it highlighted the strengthening of learning dynamism, motivation, and interaction among students; as to limitations, these included the fact that it is not an accessible technology, the need for previous training and that it can reduce sociability. It was also stressed that it can be a useful resource in many areas of social education (childhood and adolescence, gerontology, drug addiction, etc.). In general, therefore, it can be concluded that the use of AR in university training, in this area of knowledge, allows content to be more dynamic and real in a sustainable way, thus achieving a highly transferable and motivating path to develop content and competencies. Full article
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