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Developing Educational Software In An Undergraduate Lab ? Serving Education On Two Fronts At Vrupl

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Instrumentation and Laboratory Systems

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.494.1 - 12.494.11



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Paper Authors

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John Bell University of Illinois-Chicago

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Developing Educational Software in an Undergraduate Lab – Serving Education on Two Fronts at VRUPL ABSTRACT

Educational software can have a profound and widespread positive impact on the world, particularly if it is made freely available and widely distributed. At the same time, providing a laboratory where undergraduate students can work on large complex software projects beyond the scope of ordinary homework assignments can provide immeasurable benefits to those students by providing them opportunities to work together with others to meet long-term goals. This paper will discuss how one such laboratory, the Virtual Reality Undergraduate Project Laboratory, VRUPL, serves education on two fronts by developing large-scale virtual reality educational simulations in an undergraduate research laboratory, and distributes the resulting products free of charge. PEDAGOGICAL BACKGROUND

The work presented in this paper is based upon three important pedagogical foundations:

1. Dale Edgar’s Cone of Learning: Students retain more knowledge for a longer period of time when the information is presented through multiple delivery channels, particularly when one or more of those channels involves active participation. In 1969, Dale Edgar conducted a now famous study in which students were taught using a variety of different teaching mechanisms, and tested two weeks later to see how much they had retained after that time[1]. He found that after 2 weeks we tend to remember only 10% of what we read, 20% of what we hear, and 30% of what we see, but up to 50% of what we both hear AND see. One of the benefits of educational simulations is that they reinforce material that students have already received through assigned reading or classroom lectures by adding an additional delivery channel for the material.

In addition to passive delivery channels, things get even better when active participation is included – Edgar found that we retain up to 70% of what we say and up to 90% of what we say and do. The deeper and more active a student's participation, the better their retention. Doing the real thing is better than watching a simulation, which is still better than merely hearing or reading about it. In terms of the work of this project specifically, virtual reality is designed to produce a very immersive, participatory experience, much more active than a textbook, and the students who are developing the software also have much more active involvement than traditional reading and studying.

2. Learning and Teaching Styles: The learning methods that are most effective for any particular learner varies with the individual, and determines their personal learning style. For example, some students learn very well through verbal communication channels such as textbooks and traditional lectures, while others are more visually oriented and need to see pictures, diagrams, movies or other visual representations for most effective learning. There are also corresponding teaching styles, and when the latter does not match well with the former, it can be difficult for that particular student to learn.

Bell, J. (2007, June), Developing Educational Software In An Undergraduate Lab ? Serving Education On Two Fronts At Vrupl Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2635

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