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Abstract: Advanced three-dimensional (3D) virtual reality (VR) technology similar to that used by the film and computer game industries can allow educational developers to rapidly create realistic online virtual environments. This technology has been used to generate a range of online VR-based learning environments across a broad...
Abstract: Advanced three-dimensional (3D) virtual reality (VR) technology similar to that used by the film and computer game industries can allow educational developers to rapidly create realistic online virtual environments. This technology has been used to generate a range of online VR-based learning environments across a broad spectrum of industries and educational application areas. This idea is not new; flight simulators have been used for decades to train pilots for both commercial and military aviation. There are a number of lessons that can be learned from the industries that have successfully utilized virtual training and learning systems. Generic rules of thumb regarding the specification, development, application, and operation of these learning environments can be garnered from these industrial training systems and examined in an educational context. In this paper, an online VR-based system developed by the author, ViRILE (Virtual Reality Interactive Learning Environment), is introduced. This software is designed for use by undergraduate chemical engineers and simulates the configuration and operation of a polymerization plant. During the implementation of this and other visual learning environments, a number of complex operational problems were encountered that have required a number of innovative solutions and management procedures to be developed. The implementation of this and other similar systems is also discussed in this paper, and the lessons learned are extrapolated into general pedagogical guidelines to be considered for the development of VR-based online educational learning resources.