The Immersive Learning Research Network (ILRN) is proud to announce that Dr. Daniel Livingstone on behalf of the Glasgow School of Arts Digital Design Studio has agreed to be a Featured Speaker at next month’s ILRN Worldwide Conference in Santa Barbara, CA.
Advances in 3D and immersive technologies have, to a large extent, prioritised the production of photo-realistic 3D spaces. Added to this, the past decade has seen audio increasingly recognised for its key contribution to immersion in both games and 3D immersive learning. Through a range of projects, the Digital Design Studio staff have been producing immersive and detailed photo-realistic 3D environments for almost 20 years, now supplemented with work in 3D sound. However, we also recognise that there are problems and limits inherent in the use of photo-real and acoustically real environments for education and learning.
A photo-realistic appearance may have more visual detail than other modes of representation and definitely implies greater accuracy, but the greater detail might not be useful, and the implication of accuracy may not be wholly warranted and can even be misleading. Representative sketches harness the power of abstraction – simplifying or removing detail to allow greater focus on relevant content and reducing cognitive load. Similarly, in engaging with a photo-realistic model of, say, a Roman villa, the level of visual detail provided might lead users to assume that similar levels of detail apply to the behaviours of virtual actors in that environment and that their actions and interactions are similarly grounded in a deeply researched understanding of the social lives of Roman civilisation.
In tandem with the issues arising from an unwarranted impression of realism there are other, intangible, aspects of real places and artefacts that are more difficult to capture and recreate digitally. From open to close, daily, at the British Museum, there is a near constant press of bodies vying for a glimpse, through glass, of the Rosetta Stone. A replica, produced from a cast of the stone, sits in relative obscurity nearby – as a copy it lacks both ‘aura’ and a sense of authenticity, and is treated as little more than a curiosity. What extra value does the original hold that justifies the jostling crowds hoping for a few seconds of unimpeded viewing through glass? What hope do we have of being able to capture this quality digitally?
Immersive learning is thus pulled in different directions, and faces some genuine struggles in meeting conflicting aspirations. Striving for photorealism results in costly development processes, and while we can look to technologies such as photogrammetry and co-production processes to reduce costs, it can result in immersive learning environments that are themselves problematic in interpretation. Whether or not we are able to reproduce some semblance of authenticity – as opposed to realism – in our immersive environments, there remain key questions on the extent to which our use of 3D games, virtual worlds and Virtual Reality is helping learners to understand and evaluate the complexities of the world around them.
About Dr. Livingstone
Daniel Livingstone is the Postgraduate Programmes Leader at the Digital Design Studio (DDS) at The Glasgow School of Art. Prior to joining the DDS he was Programme Leader for Computer Game Technology at the University of the West of Scotland, having being involved in that programme, one of the first dedicated game development degrees in the UK, since it started.
Daniel’s interests cover a wide range of areas involving games, artificial intelligence, virtual worlds and virtual reality –with a focus on the educational applications and uses of games technologies. Daniel was co-founder (with Jeremy Kemp) of SLOODLE, a mash-up of Second Life and the Moodle LMS, integrating the support found in web-based e-learning systems and the creative possibilities of virtual worlds. More recent work has focussed on the potential of 3D technologies to support learning in a variety of contexts for a range of audiences across heritage and medical domains.
About the Digital Design Studio:
Since 1997, The Digital Design Studio (DDS) has been a postgraduate research and commercial centre of The Glasgow School of Art. Its intense learning and research environment exploits the interface between science, technology and the arts to explore imaginative and novel uses of advanced 3D digital visualisation, sound, and interaction technologies. Through partnership with Historic Environment Scotland, DDS has been involved in the digital documentation of world heritage sites from Mount Rushmore to the Sydney Opera House by way of Edinburgh, Neolithic Orkney, India, China and Japan.
The DDS is also at the forefront of developing interactive 3D digital models of the anatomy of the human body. Together with its partners, Scottish Funding Council, NHS Education for Scotland, The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh and university academic departments throughout the UK, the DDS is building the Definitive Human. This will be a key learning and teaching resource for those with an interest in studying human anatomy.
Specialists at the DDS also developed and mixed the first ever ambisonic sound broadcast, and have led the sound production for a number of award winning documentaries and interactive exhibitions. Building on its research and commercial experience, the DDS currently offers four taught post-graduate Masters in Sound for the Moving Image, Medical Visualisation and Human Anatomy (with Glasgow University), Serious Games & VR and International Heritage Visualisation.
About The Glasgow School of Art
The Glasgow School of Art (GSA) is one of the world’s leading independent university-level institutions for the visual creative disciplines, recently ranked as one of the world’s top ten art schools in the QS World Rankings (2015). Our studio-based, specialist, practice-led learning and research draw talented individuals with a shared passion for visual culture and creative production from all over the world.
Our studio-based approach to research and teaching brings disciplines together to explore problems in new ways to find new innovative solutions. The studio creates the environment for inter-disciplinarity, peer learning, critical inquiry, experimentation and prototyping, helping to addressing many of the grand challenges confronting society and contemporary business.
Join immersive learning experts and practitioners from around the world and across the disciplines at iLRN 2016! The 2nd Annual International Conference of the Immersive Learning Research Network will be an innovative hands-on and scholarly meeting for an emerging global network of developers, educators, and research professionals collaborating to develop the scientific, technical, and applied potential of immersive learning.