March 25-29, Alexandria, Virginia, USA
IEEE Virtual Reality Conference
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oceedings for these workshops and tutori

IEEE Computer Sciety

Naval Research Lab



Lessons Learned from Virtual Reality: Applications to 2-1/2D Virtual

Chris Dede

How Mediated Immersion Shapes Learning

Over the next decade, three complementary interfaces will shape how people learn: (1) the familiar webpages-and-windows “desktop,” (2) multi-user virtual environments (including sensory immersion via virtual reality), and (3) augmented realities based on mobile wireless devices and infused in real world settings. The “millennial” learning styles ascribed to the Net Generation stem primarily from the desktop interface; however, the growing use of virtual environments and augmented realities is fostering new forms of mediated learning in users of all ages. The crucial factor leading to this “neomillennial” learning is that the desktop interface is not psychologically immersive, while in contrast virtual environments and augmented realities induce a strong sense of “presence.” Psychological immersion enables a powerful pedagogy, situated learning, which is based on authentic contexts, activities, and assessment coupled with guidance from expert mentoring as well as tacit learning through collaborative activities. Through situated learning enabled by psychological presence, virtual environments and augmented realities is shaping participants’ learning styles beyond what using sophisticated computers and telecommunications has fostered thus far, with multiple implications for education and training.


Chris Dede is the Timothy E. Wirth Professor of Learning Technologies at Harvard's Graduate School of Education. His current funded research includes a grant from the National Science Foundation to aid middle school students learning science via shared virtual environments with digitized museum artifacts, a grant from the Joyce Foundation to aid the Milwaukee Public Schools in implementing a knowledge portal for teacher professional development, and a grant from Harvard to explore applications of wireless handheld devices in higher education. Past research funded by NSF includes six years of studies with R. Bowen Loftin on the Project ScienceSpace, applications of virtual reality for science education.

Chris recently served as a member of the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Foundations of Educational and Psychological Assessment, a member of the U.S. Department of Education's Expert Panel on Technology, and a member of the International Steering Committee for the Second International Technology in Education Study. In 1996-97, he served as a Senior Program Director at the National Science Foundation. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Boston Tech Academy, an experimental small high school in the Boston Public School system, funded by the Gates Foundation. His most recent book is a co-edited volume on Scaling Up Success: Lessons Learned from Technology-based Educational Innovation, published by Jossey-Bass in January, 2005.