TPACK instructional design model in virtual reality for deeper learning in science and higher education : from “apathy” to “empathy”

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Fragkaki, Maria
Mystakidis, Stylianos
Hatzilygeroudis, Ioannis
Kovas, Konstantinos
Palkova, Zuzana
Salah, Zein
Hamed, Ghadeer
Khalilia, Walid M.
Ewais, Ahmad
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Deeper learning is associated with increased retention, intrinsic motivation, the durability of knowledge and a solid understanding of the underlying principles of studied phenomena. It advocates learning beyond rote content knowledge accumulation using student-centred instructional strategies such as case-based learning, simulations, collaborative learning, self-directed learning and learning for transfer. Science education in Higher Education is crucial for the social, scientific and economic progress of both advanced and developing countries. Desktop Virtual Reality is a technological medium that can be utilized to facilitate deep learning instructional strategies in science education. Desktop Virtual Reality features pervasive, computer-generated 3D virtual immersive environments where users interact through digital agents or avatars. In this paper, we explore if three learning scenarios from the fields of Biology, Earth Sciences (Geology) and Physics are updating the traditional transfer of knowledge. Passive, teacher-centred approaches often cause a sentiment of “apathy” to students while interactive student-centred approaches for Deeper Learning in Virtual Reality environments evoke feelings of “empathy”. More specific, we inquire to what extend does the TPACK instructional design model in Virtual Reality support Deeper Learning. Results indicate that academic teachers were able to enrich their teaching paradigm by integrating learning activities in virtual reality that evoke students’ interest, motivation and autonomy. Moreover, and after discussing the research results, we propose recommendations that instructional designers need to take in consideration to promote Deeper Learning in blended distance e-learning settings using social VR. The TPACK Learning Scenarios were developed in Palestinian Higher Education Institutes (HEIs) in the context of the capacity building Erasmus+ KA2 project “Virtual Reality as an Innovative and Immersive Tool for HEIs in Palestine (TESLA)”.
Virtual reality, Deeper learning, Virtual worlds, TPACK, Deep and meaningful learning, Science education, STEM, Higher education