Date of Award

4-2017

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science and Software Engineering (MSSE)

Department

Computer Science

First Advisor

Boumediene Belkhouche

Second Advisor

Saad Harous

Third Advisor

Mohammad Hamdan

Abstract

Our overarching goal is to provide children with immersive game-based learning environments to support Arabic linguistic skills acquisition. We postulate that immersion in- creases learning. To investigate this hypothesis, we developed a model and built an implementation of an educational virtual environment (EVE) that supports immersion and thus, induces effective learning. Experimental results confirm our hypothesis.

Our model integrates learning content, learning activities, immersion and gameplay. Based on our analysis of various curricula, specifically the United Arab Emirates grade one curriculum, we identified the nature of the learning content in order to satisfy the curriculum requirements. This content is conceptually structured to support gradual and independent learning. Acquiring knowledge from the learning content involves a learning process that we operationalize as a set of well-defined cognitive activities, which are categorized as perception, recognition, association, composition and recall. Accordingly, gameplay events and actions are designed to afford and instantiate these activities to engage the learner. Besides gameplay, engagement is explicitly addressed by modeling immersion using three different dimensions (sensory, imaginative and challenge-based).

Our implementation is a 3D virtual reality game that captures various learning environments, each of which provides adventure, exploration, and learning. The gameplay engages players into learning activities that stimulate their senses, challenges them, and keep them absorbed in their quests. The implemented system runs on PC’s with Oculus and on smart phones with virtual glasses. These configurations were used in experiments in the lab- oratory, at a primary school, and in informal settings to measure immersion and learning. Results show that our model contributes effectively to immersion and learning.

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