MiRTLE: A Mixed Reality Teaching & Learning Environment

I came across this very interesting project  which aims to provide students with a great way to immerse themselves from the physical to the virtual reality.

Mixed Reality Teaching & Learning Environment (MiRTLE), was a one-year collaborative research project undertaken by Sun Microsystems Laboratories and the University of Essex from October 2007. Virtual worlds have been used to address some issues such as giving users a greater sense of presence and engagement than other communication/collaboration technologies, such as instant messaging, chat, audio/video conferencing or application sharing. However, few of the virtual worlds enable a mixed reality of physically present and remote students.

The vision for the project MiRTLE was for a combination of physically-present and remote students in a traditional instructive higher education setting. This solution should augment existing teaching practice with the ability to foster a sense of community amongst remote students, and between remote and physically-present students.

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5 thoughts on “MiRTLE: A Mixed Reality Teaching & Learning Environment

  1. >Such a project can indeed be useful when considering Gozitan students, who have to come to Malta every day to be able to attend lessons. It would undoubtedly provide them with more flexibility and therefore more study time. However were I to choose, I would prefer to have video conferencing since it conveys human emotions more efficiently than a virtual world where one is seeing only an avatar. On the other hand video conferencing brings about the need for the remote students to be assembled in one place while for a project such as MiRTLE, the students can learn from home.

  2. >In Malta this mainly applies to Gozitan students and those students taking up evening courses. This system allows an increase in teaching productivity by enabling teachers to deliver only one lecture to all students rather than duplicate lectures which incur time and travel costs.With regards to remote students what they need to do is just log into the MiRTLE virtual world and enter the classroom where the lecture is taking place. As shown in the video they see a live video of the lecture as well as any slides that are being presented, or an application that the lecturer is using. Spatial audio is employed to enhance their experience such that it is closer to the real world.Remote students have the opportunity to ask questions just as they would in the physical world via audio communication. Additionally a messaging window is provided that allows written questions or discussion to take place.Yes I tend to agree with Doreen that there is a lack of human emotions especially when it comes to the emotional state of students’ feedback.However I still agree with Alison that this can be easily used at MCAST. I lecture students following AAT Diploma. This can be easily applied to evening sessions.

  3. >This is an excellent idea. It can be applied to the context of Gozo and to evening courses. However, another use which came to my mind whilst reading the comments is that it can also be applied to women or housewives that are in that period of their lives where because of responsibilities towards their children or old parents they cannot attend to courses, not even evening courses. It will be an excellent idea to allow flexibility in learning. Thus, everyone is given the opportunity to learn. Of course, there remains the human element of the course but this can be arranged for by introducing a limited number of contact hours. I think that this idea will solve the problems of a number of women who because of their familiy responsibilities they are stuck in their self-development.

  4. >I think the idea of MiRTlLE is great especially for people who cannot travel and want a structured course, especially if they feel they cannot discipline themselves to study on their own. I agree that the human contact is lacking, personally I would like to know the person I am talking to but it seems some people are content to just hear a voice without knowing the face behind it. This would work very well for people who are shy or do not wish to be seen for whatever the reason, (say a person in a corrective facility or in hospital); this would surely give them some semblance of normality.It would work great in our engineering courses if the classroom were taken to an industrial facility. Practical and hands on work which isn’t available at MCAST or where taking the students to the location would be impractical or impossible due to safety, security or even student number in a limited space. Wow! This could really give a new perspective to teaching and learning in our engineering courses. Even the lecturer can become the student when working on learning in collaboration with industry especially with state of the art or evolving technology (starting say renewable energy). Students and lecturer can ask questions there and then and you have an expert in the field giving the answers or showing you how to do things. Certainly the mix of real and virtual has so much potential today.

  5. >Watching this video, I thought how would MCAST virtual campus be? May be one could upload the proposed restructured campus site as the virtual domain. As indicated in this video, the MiRTLE is one other form of e-learning tool used for distance learning, potentially addressing the increasing global outreach of online education. The MiRTLE is the ideal tool for online learning to successfully engage the global audience student within the class and others at remote places, connected online. This method relies on the strategy that students learn better when they are socially, cognitively, and emotively immersed in the learning process. Unlike other distant learning methods, the MiRTLE engages the human presence using a computer generated representation, the avatar. This has a social and emotive impact, providing a sense of presence and belonging to a society. One realizes that the MiRTLE approach aims to minimize the isolation of the remote network-based learner, engendering a sense of community and social presence. This human factor improves student engagement and the overall learning experienceUnlike other online self-learning systems, the MiRTLE creates a social space, for the distant learner in a classroom, sense of presence and belongingness. The mixed-reality version with the presence of a virtual classroom with avatar representations of teachers and students, and direct interactivity with the real classroom, fosters the social environment. The remote student is engaged in the online lessons by mixing reality with virtuality, maintaining a space for human interaction, and reserving a social space and inclusiveness in the lesson. the MiRTLE creates a social space, engendering a sense of community and social presence to the students who cannot be physically in a real classroom, may be due to impairment, social activities, job restrictions, living in isolated remote deserted areas, financial limitations, addressing equity, insemination of education to everyone and global outreach of education.

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