NRO Kennisrotonde – Virtual Reality & Augmented Reality

In opdracht van het Nationaal Regieorgaan Onderwijsonderzoek hebben we een uitgebreid literatuuronderzoek uitgevoerd over Virtual Reality en Augmented Reality in het basisonderwijs. De vraagsteller, een bestuur van een grote scholengemeenschap formuleerde voor de NRO Kennisrotonde de volgende vraag:

Wat weten we over de inzet en effectiviteit van Augmented Reality en Virtual Reality in het basisonderwijs?

Het volledige onderzoek is hier te vinden, hieronder de samenvatting van het onderzoek, zoals ook gepubliceerd op de website van het NRO.

An English version of this report will come out in the near future.

Virtual Reality in de klas

Het is nog te vroeg om harde conclusies te trekken over de effectiviteit van VR of AR in het onderwijs. Veel van de onderzoekers zijn echter positief en zien veel mogelijkheden voor deze nieuwe leermiddelen. De grootste uitdaging ligt in de ontwikkeling van goede educatieve inhoud en inbedding in lesprogramma’s.

Er is goed onderzoek verricht naar de effectiviteit van VR als leermiddel, maar het gaat dan over ‘screen-based VR’, waarbij geen headset wordt gebruikt maar een scherm. In dit onderzoek beperken we ons tot Head Mounted Display (HMD) gebaseerde Virtual Reality, waarbij wel gebruik wordt gemaakt van een headset. Dat sluit volgens ons het beste aan bij het heersende beeld van deze techniek.

Enthousiasme voor VR

Voor deze vorm van VR zijn er nog geen publicaties van hoge kwaliteit die wijzen op concrete leerresultaten. De toon van de academische literatuur is echter overwegend positief en deze doet verslag van geslaagde onderwijsexperimenten met gemotiveerde studenten. Ook in de onderwijspraktijk hebben we veel enthousiasme bemerkt. De verwonderde reacties die eerste VR-ervaringen vaak opleveren, spelen hierin een belangrijke rol. Daarbij leidt het idee dat in de ultieme belofte van VR alles kan worden gemaakt wat we ons kunnen voorstellen, tot veel creativiteit. Dit biedt namelijk ook de mogelijkheid om de volledige leeromgeving van een leerling vorm te geven.

Veel onderzoekers en docenten zien daarom voldoende reden om te experimenteren met VR in het klaslokaal. De leerkrachten Jasper Bloemsma en Jeffrey Swerissen bijvoorbeeld verrijken hun lessen met allerlei applicaties en 360˚ video’s. Het is wel goed om te realiseren dat de educatieve waarde van veel Virtual Reality-apps nog beperkt is.

Augmented Reality

Waar bij Virtual Reality het doel is een totaal virtuele realiteit te ervaren, draait Augmented Reality om het verrijken, of uitbreiden van de ‘echte’, fysieke wereld met virtuele elementen. Augmented Reality heeft vele verschijningsvormen: telefoonapplicaties die werken met QR-codes, applicaties voor headsets als Google Glass en Microsoft HoloLens of projectoren die een oppervlakte beschijnen. Bijvoorbeeld een ‘Augmented Reality sandbox’ waar een hoogtekaart wordt geprojecteerd op een zandbak. Vanwege deze verschillende verschijningsvormen zijn we extra kritisch op de bestaande applicaties, met name op de relatie tussen virtuele en echte elementen. Daar zit volgens ons de belangrijkste meerwaarde van Augmented Reality.

Experimenteren

Augmented Reality is wat volwassener als medium dan VR en ook de literatuur is wat verder ontwikkeld. Een aantal studies constateert positieve leereffecten, maar de kwaliteit van deze studies is niet altijd even hoog. En soms blijkt het effect kleiner dan dat van klassikaal onderwijs. Ook gaat het over uiteenlopende vakken en verschijningsvormen van AR. Het is hierom ook voor AR nog te vroeg om harde conclusies te trekken over de effectiviteit als leermiddel.

Waar VR via een headset nog niet volledig toegankelijk is, is Augmented Reality in de vorm van een smartphoneapplicatie al langer beschikbaar. Verschillende docenten experimenteren daarmee in hun lessen, bijvoorbeeld door lesboeken te verrijken met filmpjes of extra uitleg. Zo hebben de leerlingen precies op het moment dat ze het nodig hebben toegang tot extra informatie.

Meer weten?

Lees de volledige studie ‘Virtual Reality en Augmented Reality in het primair onderwijs’ uitgevoerd door Robin de Lange (Universiteit Leiden, Virtual Reality Learning Lab) en Maarten Lodewijk (Virtual Reality Learning Lab).

 

Virtual Reality Learning Lab – new online & offline location

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We’re very proud to announce that the website of the Virtual Reality Learning Lab is online. We are still working on some technical details and of course we still have a lot of content to add. Nonetheless we are excited about this step; thank you Donna Schipper.

We’re even more excited about our new offline location at HUBspot Leiden, the centre for entrepreneurship and innovation that just opened its doors at Langegracht 70 in Leiden. Here, the VR Learning Lab will have its own office and plenty of room and hardware for students to work on their Virtual Reality projects.

Towards a theoretical framework for Virtual Reality in Education

For my current research I broadly explore the potential of Virtual Reality for education. As a part of this I try to form some sort of theoretical framework to describe the unique characteristics of VR as a medium and how it can be used to explain complex concepts and teach different skills.

With some googling you can find quite a few articles (both academic, popular and in-between) that describe the various ways VR could be used in education. There are even a few listicles out there, to use the parlance of our times. Now, who can resist the simplicity of a 5 point overview of this new medium and its role in learning?

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The dangers of techno-pessimism in education

I do research on the potential of Virtual Reality for education. Now, people generally find VR very exciting and because of this I get a lot of enthusiastic reactions. People can imagine all sorts of useful applications for education. Students could learn about our solar system while experiencing a space flight, or walk through ancient Rome and learn about its history.

Of course, I also receive a lot of reactions that are more critical of VR as a learning tool. We are at a point in time where there’s hardly any decisive research about learning performances in Virtual Reality. We don’t even know yet whether people will buy VR headsets. Shouldn’t we wait for these kinds of things before we invest in hardware and educational VR content? VR has been a hype before, can the technology deliver the promises that are being made?

Generally I can understand and appreciate these critical viewpoints. I often even agree with them. However, I also think that there’s danger in this cautious, sceptical stance that is often seen in education. The danger is that it’s quite different from the agressive venture capitalist approach often seen in the internet & entertainment industries. Virtual Reality has the potential to be huge, which creates the possibility to invest in a company that will be leading in this new market. This promise has been the reason for VC’s to invest billions and billions of dollars in companies that create VR hardware and software.

So, when VR would actually become a mainstream technology, the entertainment industry will have a multi billion dollar head start. This head start will have had serious influence on the way we view and use Virtual Reality. There will be solid software distribution platforms created by the VR hardware companies. VR will be primarily perceived as a medium for gaming and other entertainment purposes, and only very slightly as a tool for learning. Matthew McCoy points out how the choices we make today, will strongly affect our future use of the medium in this interesting article.

In a way then, techno-pessimism in education is self-fulfilling. We can follow a cautious, sceptical approach and wait for strong research results that conclude that certain Virtual Reality applications lead to better learning results. But by doing so, we give the entertainment industry a head start, making it very hard for education to catch up. I guess something similar happened with our smartphones. We don’t primarily use these devices for their powerful learning capabilities, but instead for posting selfies on Instagram.

I want to stress that a critical stance about the use of VR in education is very valuable. Virtual Reality is not a tool that will solve all the ‘problems’ in education. I do not think VR will transform or disrupt education, despite what the headlines of tech blogs state. VR is not the best medium for all learning material. Some is better explained through text, video, by doing an assignment, or by explanation by the teacher. I do think however, that we should experiment with VR in the classroom much more!

What do you think? Is this danger real? What should we do about it?

If you’re interested in my research, you can follow me on Twitter, like my page on Facebook, or subscribe to my newsletter.

Hack de Pont – VR Hackathon

On the 30th of April 2016 I gave a Unity3D Virtual Reality workshop for the VR Hackathon ‘Hack de Pont‘, organised by Creative Coding Amsterdam, Lava Lab and Submarine Channel. Among the participants were Syrian refugees from the very noble Hack your Future program. Although a large part of the group had never worked with Unity3D before, quite a few interesting projects were created that day!

After the workshop I joined artist Sander Veenhof to create a project of our own. We mixed Ricoh Theta 360 photos Sander took on the ferry ride with a 3D modeled world in Unity3D to create an experience where you travel from the analog to the digital world. In the future it might be available in the Play Store, this tweets shows a preview:

 

Virtual Reality for Science & Education 2016 – a Review

On the 10th of March 2016 we organized the Virtual Reality for Science & Education symposium at the Scheltema Complex in Leiden. I think we can safely state the event was a great success!

Over 125 people attended the event, causing a small shortage of chairs at the busiest time of the symposium. I have seen many familiar faces, but also met a lot of interesting new people. The list of attendees included researchers, professors, high school teachers, entrepreneurs, Virtual Reality developers, policy makers and artists. I think this mix of people led to very interesting discussions, thank you all very much for your input!

The speakers of the symposium showed us inspiring examples of successful application of Virtual Reality in science and education. I think these examples illustrate the countless opportunities that are in need of experimentation. Below you can find the list of speakers, the full program can be found here.

During the break and the drinks at the end of the day people could experience different VR experiences themselves. There were demonstrations by:

 

The video of the symposium was made by Floran Swanborn and is embedded at the top of this post. Below you can view the photos made by Roland Clarke.

Virtual Reality for Science & Education symposium - 10 March 2016

These are the slides for my presentation at the symposium.

   
Are you interested in the slides of the other speakers? Or do you have an idea for a new project? Please feel free to contact me. You can also subscribe to the Virtual Reality & Education newsletter if you want to be informed about future events!

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This symposium was made possible by the LUF, the Gratama stichting and the Media Technology program.

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Virtual Reality for Science & Education Symposium – 10 March 2016

Updates about the program below!

During the last few years developments in Virtual Reality have gained a lot of momentum. Almost two decades after the inevitable downfall in the hype cycle, the Oculus Rift showed that a VR headset is within reach for the average consumer. This kickstarted many new initiatives, causing an entire VR ecosystem to emerge, with small start-ups and massive corporations creating new headsets, innovative input devices, spherical cameras and loads of immersive content.

These developments open many possibilities for research and education. Realistic simulations allow police officers to safely train dangerous situations. 3D visualizations can help the design process by allowing the user to walk around in buildings that have not been built yet. But we can also think of immersive data visualizations which can be navigated spatially. Psychology researchers can use VR to measure responses to realistic environments and scenarios. Lectures about ancient Rome could be given while walking past the Colosseum and virtual classrooms could make following a MOOC into a more intense and social experience.

Symposium
To explore the possibilities of this new medium, we organize the symposium ‘Virtual Reality for Science & Education‘ on the 10th of March 2016. The symposium will start at 13:30 at the Scheltema complex in Leiden. Around 17:30 we will end the day with some drinks and Virtual Reality demonstrations.

On this day, the students from the eponymous elective research course of the Media Technology MSc. program will present the VR prototypes they have created.

The plenary program will have speakers from different backgrounds: Virtual Reality developers, scientists who use VR in their research and educators who experiment with VR in the classroom.

Program

13:30 Coffee, registration and demo’s

14:00 Welcome

14:05 Robin de Lange (Leiden University)
In his talk, Robin will discuss some results from his PhD research so far. Why do many people think Virtual Reality could be a powerful tool for education? What kind of possibilities are there? What is the best way to proceed?

14:30 Guntur Sandino (CleVR)
CleVR specializes in creating complete and customized Virtual Reality (VR) solutions for a wide range of purposes in the (Mental) Health Care sector. Guntur will talk about the interactive applications they have created to treat fear of flying and Social Phobia.

14:55 Student team: DinoZapp
Gosse Mol, Han Lie, Roos Hoefnagel & Nickolas Ioannou will present the VR game they have created where children learn the practices of taxonomy in a playful way. This project was part of the VRSE course and created in collaboration with Naturalis.

15:10 Richard den Tilborg (Ordina)
VR is powerful technology, can it be used to change our subconsciousness for humanized purposes?Ordina SMART realized several cases to influence the brain. Two of them will be explained in this presentation. (1) Can VR help patients wih anorexia? and (2) Battle your fear for public speaking

—–BREAK—–

15:50 Hans Luyckx (IJsfontein)
IJsfontein designs and develops playful (digital) learning based on the belief that people are naturally curious and intrinsically motivated to develop themselves. Hans will talk about the VR projects they created for Veilig Verkeer Nederland and the new Waterlinie Museum.

16:15Lisa E. Rombout
Lisa will discuss the use of the placebo effect in virtual health care, based on her Media Technology graduation research that compared real-world placebo’s with virtual ones.

16:25 – Student team: Orbital Visualization
Bauke Smits & Desiree de Ridder will present the VR application they have created that teaches Chemistry students the complex shapes of atomic orbitals. This project was part of the VRSE course.

16:40Sander Veenhof
To explore which role Virtual Reality can play in the future of education, Sander Veenhof has been developing and testing experimental multi-user VR learning environments for classroom use. In his talk, he will share the results – but the failures too.

17:00 – Discussion, Drinks & Demos

During the day visitors can try many different Virtual Reality demonstrations and experience the potential of VR themselves. The talks and experiences can be discussed during the (free!) drinks at the end of the day.

Flyer VR for science and education_10_March_2016

Registration
The symposium is free for everyone, but tickets are limited. Registration via this form is required.

Call for project demonstrations
We are looking for interesting additions to the program of the VRSE Symposium 2016. Do you want to show the VR project you have created? We still have openings for the following format:

  • Project demonstration. You will have a stand to showcase and explain your work during the day.

This symposium was made possible by the LUF, the Gratama-stichting and the Faculty of Science.

Embodied Vision 2015

In the spring of 2015 I taught the course Embodied Vision together with Dan North. The course was part of the Media Technology MSc. program.

In the lectures given by Dan the students learned about special effects and illusionism in cinema and how this is used in the service of narrative and spectacle. In the following workshops I gave we explored to what extent the visual effects used in film are usable for creating immersive experiences in Virtual Reality. The studens identified differences and similarities between film and contemporary Virtual Reality. For their final project for the course the students created cinematic VR projects which experimented with e.g. stop-motion, green screens, interactive gaze-controlled video and the dolly zoom effect.

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Below you can find some of my slides for the course.

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Virtual Reality for Science & Education

In May 2015 the Gratama Stichting and Leids Universiteitsfonds announced that my research project into the possibilities of Virtual Reality for the field of education will receive the Gratama research grant. Prof. dr. Jaap van den Herik helped me with the application procedure, the research will be part of my PhD work supervised by prof. dr. Bas Haring.

The research project includes an elective course where 30 students will explore the potential of Virtual Reality for science and education by creating experimental VR prototypes. More details about the course in the e-Studiegids.

My research project was mentioned in the Leiden University newsletter and Mare.

Art of Neuroscience talk – Virtual Reality visualization of live EEG data

On March 24th 2015 I gave a talk at the Art of Neuroscience symposium in the beautiful Eye in Amsterdam. More information about this yearly event can be found here.

Art of Neuroscience talk

In my talk I presented the Virtual Reality visualization of live EEG data I created with my team mates Eva Delincakova and Bert Spaan at the Hack the Brain hackathon in May 2014. I discussed the potential of Virtual Reality for immersive data visualization and how this could be used in the field of education.

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The day before the event Tycho Hoogland and me were interviewed about the event by BNR Nieuwsradio Eyeopeners. Here you can listen to The program (in Dutch), our part starts afer 14 minutes.

An important part of the event was the competition for which many beautiful images were submitted. The winning image, by Jean-Christophe Billeter and many others can be found here.

Choosey Female by Jean-Christophe Billeter, University of Groningen

Choosey Female by Jean-Christophe Billeter, University of Groningen

And my slides:

Embodied Vision Workshop: Augmented and Virtual Reality with Unity3D

On the 19th of June 2014 at 10.00, I’ll teach a workshop for the Embodied Vision course of the Media Technology MSc. program. Below you can find a short description of the workshop and the assignment. After the workshop I’ll post a summary of what we’ve discussed.

Embodied Vision Workshop: Augmented and Virtual Reality with Unity3D

In this workshop we will go through the basics of working with Unity3D, discuss interesting projects made with the software and experiment with creating your own Augmented or Virtual Reality project. I will explain about the Vuforia library which can be used to create mobile AR apps and get you started to develop for Oculus Rift. For the workshop you will need Unity Pro which can be downloaded from unity3d.com. Please install the software beforehand. You can make use of the 30-day trial version.

Assignment
Groups: 1-3 people
During the lectures you have learned about many different special and visual effects used in film and the different goals (such as: distraction, shock, spectacle, narrative, integration, immersion) that can be reached by applying these effects. For this assignment you are challenged to make use of the visual effects offered by Augmented and Virtual Reality to support one (or more) of these goals you find most interesting.
Since learning Unity3D is an essential part of this workshop, you should make use of this software for your project. Exceptions can be made however, if you can give good reasons for this.

Mind Extensions website

In Western tradition, thinking has been commonly seen as a very secluded activity. As our environment is getting more and more saturated with technologies, it is becoming clear however, that our minds are less separated from the world as we might think. Many questions arise, questions about artificial intelligence, about the technologies we use to solve problems and how these affect the way we think. What does it mean to know something when we have all the world’s information at our fingertips? Can thinking technologies help us to understand more complex problems? What does it mean when technology enters the brain? Can we decode our brain activity to such extent that we can actually read people’s thoughts? Does the use of technological aids affect what we should learn? How should this change be incorporated in our education system?

The Mind Extensions website aims to create an environment where ideas around these matters are created, collected, exchanged and discussed. These ideas can come in many different shapes and sizes: from essays to interactive artworks and from poems to web lectures. We hope to build an active community with various people from different disciplines who read, write, share and discuss posts.

Exploring how we Use Technology to Think

Exploring how we Use Technology to Think

Brainstorm – Hack the Brain hackathon

For the Hack the Brain hackathon, organized by Waag Society, TNO and the Donders Institute, we created an immersive 3D environment of EEG data using the Oculus Rift. To experience our project you wear a cap with electrodes to capture an EEG signal from the electrical activity in your brain. The Oculus Rift places you inside your brain from where you can see the captured brain activity and fly through your brain. The intensity of the visual effects expresses the activity of alpha waves in that part of the brain. This immersive environment could be used by students to better understand brain activity and the EEG signal this produces. ADHD patients could use it as a neurofeedback system to improve their concentration level and neurologists might use it to simulate the experience of epileptic patients when they have a seizure.

Brainstorm3

Media

On the Mind Extensions website you can find the article I wrote about the entire hackathon. he crew of the Dutch television program ‘De Kennis van Nu’ reported live from the hackathon, the playlist is embedded below. The television show can be found here.

Graduation project

On the 28th of August 2013 I presented my graduation project, which was graded an 8.5.

Developing an Augmented Reality application to promote an extended concept of cognition in education

[ABSTRACT]
The ever decreasing size and price of computer parts seems to be leading to computing power becoming ubiquitous. Similar to technology such as pen and paper, computing power becomes intertwined with our problem solving processes in such ways that it becomes invisible. This development has, and will have, enormous influence on our cognitive profiles. The field of education however, has barely changed to cope with this change in cognitive profiles.  While developments in information technologies are changing how we learn in many ways, we believe it is essential to rethink what we should learn in this perspective of increasing availability and accessibility of computing power.

This research reviews an extended concept of cognition, in which technological elements can actually be part of the cognitive process. We suggest this view as a framework to discuss the goals of education and the technological aids that can be used to reach these goals. To raise this discussion, a mobile application is developed which shows the potential of Augmented Reality techniques to display context-sensitive information, which can be incorporated in the problem solving process.

 
The output of my research project consisted of three parts:

1. An article published in the third issue of AR[t] magazine of the ARLab titled: ‘Augmented Education: How AR technologies extend our minds’.

2. An Augmented Reality app ARMath, created using Unity 3D and the Vuforia AR library. The prototype recognizes mathematical statements and displays extra information on the problem in the vicinity, such as a graph when an equation is recognized. Because of the limitations of live text recognition, this prototype uses image recognition and therefore only works for certain mathematical statements.

3. A PhD proposal to extend this research.

Below you can find my article in the AR[t] magazine.

Download the article here

Het Semantic Web en netwerktechnologische cognitieve uitbreidingen

Final paper for the course Wikisofie

ABSTRACT

The Semantic Web is initiated as a project which would make the semantics of the information in the collection of documents which form the Web, understandable for machines. In this paper I will show some of the arguments for the statement that this project is too ambitious and in fact relies on strong AI. Therefore, it is in the foreseeable future impossible. Instead, I will show an alternative use of the Semantic Web, namely to make the information on the Web even better accessible to human users. By using the Semantic Web in Augmented Reality applications, the required information could be found easier and, more important, could be presented in ways which are better suitable than the natural language in which it is presented in on the Web. This would lower the information access cost significantly, especially when presenting more complex information, which makes the possibility of network-enabled cognition much more plausible.

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Creatief programmeren

Laatste column voor het vak Wikisofie.

In deze column wil ik een licht werpen op de volgende stelling:

 Door leden van de samenleving toegang te geven tot een gemeenschappelijk fonds van probleemoplossingen en handelingsmogelijkheden, wordt enerzijds de cognitieve druk op het individu ontlast, maar zou de samenleving anderzijds ook aan creativiteit en originaliteit kunnen inboeten.

Laten we hiervoor kijken naar een cognitieve taak waarbij het oplossen van problemen centraal staat: het programmeren van software. Gedurende de afgelopen decennia is het proces van programmeren steeds verder komen te staan van het aansturen van fysieke processen in de hardware. Door de creatie van hogere programmeertalen kan de computer op een abstractere wijze worden aangestuurd. In plaats van directe instructies aan de processor te geven in de vorm van nullen en enen, kunnen we gebruik maken van ingebouwde functies als if-statements en for-loops. Deze abstractie van de onderliggende processen is nog verder doorgezet met het object-georiënteerd programmeren en de opkomst van grafische programmeeromgevingen. Door deze laatste ontwikkeling is het jargon van ‘het schrijven van een programma’ achterhaald geraakt. In omgevingen als Max/MSP, Labview, of Google’s nieuwe Android gebruikerstool Appinventor, sleep je grafische elementen rond op een virtueel bureaublad en leg je functionele verbindingen tussen de verschillende modules aan.

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Conducting Life

For the course Embodied Vision Erik Jansen and I have made a Max/MSP Jitter patch that re-edits footage automatically and motion-based.


The conductor is the leader of a musical ensemble, whose task it is to direct the musical performance by making gestures. One of the main tasks of the conductor is to set the tempo of the music. We were interested in using these visible gestures to direct something different than an orchestra, namely the tempo of a video. We have interpreted the motion in a video we’ve found showing a static shot of the conductor of ‘Der Fledermaus’ and used this for the automatically re-editing of another video.

For the footage that is re-edited we’ve used the film Koyaanisqatsi. In the Hopi language this title means ‘life out of balance’. The feature length film contains beautiful shots and tries to show the relationship between humans, nature and technology. It is a mixture of slow-motion and time-lapse footage of natural landscapes and cities. As final result we have a split screen video, containing the video of the conductor and selected images from Koyaanisqatsi with corresponding motions and editing speed. One might say that by re-editing the footage the conductor is trying to bring back balance in life.
We have used Max/Msp/Jitter for this project. .

Over het Internet

Vijfde column voor het vak Wikisofie.

Het is opzienbarend hoeveel de standpunten van Hubert Dreyfus en Don Tapscott die zij presenteren in hun boeken On the Internet, respectievelijk Wikinomics uit elkaar liggen. Beiden boeken gaan over toepassingen van het Internet en de invloed daarvan op de samenleving. Toch lijkt het alsof beide auteurs het over volstrekt verschillende media hebben.
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