High Fidelity STEM VR Challenge—feasibility concerns @Chris, @Ryan
The concept I have for submission to the Challenge may be too ambitious, so I’d like to put the basic idea and concerns up for comment by HF Staff and interested Alphas who know what’s what way better than do I.
My concept is based on a bunch of progressive education principles:
- Social/collaborative learning
- Project-based and goal-driven learning
- Situated experience-based learning
If the jargon makes your eyes and mind blur, it all basically means students learn stuff by working together in a small team to solve realistic problems that mean something to them in an interesting setting, with those who know more about something helping out those who know less and everyone gets further than working alone. We learn concepts, principles, and processes more deeply by hands-on engagement with multiple senses involved and in a social context. It’s all pretty much the opposite of the standard behaviorist approaches to teaching.
What I have in mind is a plausible sci-fi scenario to engage and present survival challenges to a team of from three to six people, who then must interact with each other and the shared environment to overcome those challenges by applying problem assessment skills, math, science, and engineering (science-based crafting). Think of the movie Moon or the current US TV show Dark Matter, or the countless games that start with “Player wakes up in an abandoned hospital/wherever, …” The Challenge submission, of course, will be small and fairly simple, although the concept could be done on any scale.
The idea is to present an immersive, engaging, realistically interactive simulated world that permits natural and comfortable social interaction and collaboration well enough to create a genuine shared educational experience. Sounds like HF is just the thing. Right?
OK, the three main concerns are:
• Can HF provide an at least temporarily stable platform?
It’s hard to develop a real thing not knowing what functions you can count on at the moment and still count on them next week or month. Ground shaking underfoot, etc. We also need a stable build that will work consistently and without grief for everyone across platforms.
• How realistic can the social interaction be?
This is the big thing, the essential thing. Judging from the recent HF in-world meetups and current domains, and the kinds of things alphas bring up in the forum, it seems pretty dismal. Stiff manikin avatars in meaningless, random poses, difficult movement, avatars submarining in the terrain, no gravity, meetings with avatars scattered and moving about seemingly inattentively, voices suddenly popping in with no clue who is talking or where they are, etc. I think Oculus Rift and Leap Motion, or other controllers can go a good way towards that. A high sense of immersed presence is needed for collaboration and social interaction, especially a sense of social presence, awareness of others and their attitudes, social cues,eye contact, and social attention-shifting, all that we need for natural group discussions, with the usual ways to interrupt, express agreement/disagreement, gestures, body language, etc. in a shared virtual space. What kind of hardware setup is needed to get that level of social presence?
What kinds of object manipulation are possible?
Collaborators need to show and tell, handle things, operate equipment, cause persistent changes, etc.
I’m not sure where is the line that separates what comes with the platform vs. what the developer must provide. I know, open source, etc., but for something like this Challenge, what can a developer do without getting into HF code itself, or what must they do, considering a ‘unit’ such as described above?
Is anything like this at all feasible given current state of HF and the constraints of the Challenge? What value does HF provide versus a game engine like URT or Unity3D?