Theodosis Karageorgakis

Theodosis Karageorgakis

IT Expert - Trainer - Educator - Engineer - CEO at educraft.tech

Virtual reality has attracted the interest of the research community due to the endless possibilities itoffers in the educational arena. Although a wide range of applications already exists, further researchis required to establish effective practices for a fruitful classroom implementation. This quantitativeresearch of a sample of 37 primary school students explores the educational affordances and students’perceptions of virtual reality systems as supportive tools for teaching English as a foreign language.

Friday, 01 February 2019 06:58

Google Expeditions receives a massive update

We are really excited with Google's Expedition updates. A few months ago Google implemented Augmented Reality "Expeditions" to the application. Now, the Silicon Valley giant, allows you to guide your students to the expeditions that you have created using external tools. This is actually huge news. The potential that this option unleashes are extraordinary since Expeditions finally becomes open to the public. You don't have to choose an expedition from the existing database if you don't see fit. From now on you can import your Expedition as well. Customized lessons are now a reality. 
 
 
Features that are included in the Expeditions update:
• Ability to view and guide Tour Creator tours in Google Expeditions
• A selection of top Expeditions tours translated into 10 languages: Arabic, French, German, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.
• These updates are only available on Android, coming soon for iOS
 
Stay tuned for Expeditions updates here, at the official blog of the app.

It is well known that gamification is an engaging technique that enables the creation of a deeper bond between the user and the product. Why does this happen? How does Neuroscience explain this connection? Read the article below by Juliette Denny to learn more.

1. Gamification Forges An Emotional Connection

Gamification involves creating a narrative around the learning activity that describes why the task is relevant to the learner. According to University of Reading researchers, attention spans are affected by the subject’s emotional connection with the activity.

We found that participants’ attention is affected by emotion and priority, such that they pay more attention to particularly vivid information or details that are highly relevant to them, but their retention of low-priority information is impaired” - Michiko Sakaki

2. The Hippocampus Controls Recall

The hippocampus is an area in the lower section of the brain which is largely responsible for knowledge recall. During learning, a strong hippocampal activation makes the content easier to remember and recall (Foerde & Shohamy, 2011). In clinical tests, gameplay has been shown to stimulate these conditions.

Identifying a direct connection between the stimulation of neural circuits and gameplay is a key step in unlocking the potential for game-based tools to inspire positive behavior and improve health” - Brian Knutson, associate professor of psychology and neuroscience at Stanford University.

3. Dopamine Creates Positive Associations With Learning

Dopamine, or the feel-good hormone, is released whenever we are rewarded for a specific action. Gamification focuses on giving learners instantaneous feedback which might not otherwise be available. By giving virtual rewards for achieving learning goals, learners begin to associate the learning with positive emotions, prompting them to try to repeat it (i.e., seek out more learning).

the neuroscience of gamification in online learning 1

4. The Brain Processes Stories Better Than Facts

One of the key components of a compelling game is a good story. People tend to remember stories better than lists of unconnected facts. This isn’t just a matter of preference; it’s a physiological imperative. When we are engaged in a strong narrative, the brain releases oxytocin – a chemical that generates feelings of trust and empathy. As a result, when the brain receives information presented as a story, it recognises it as being more valid.

5. Badges And Rewards Can Trigger Serotonin Release

Serotonin is a hormone that governs our overall mood. Plenty of serotonin makes for a sunny disposition whereas a drop in serotonin might leave you feeling a bit grumpy. Aside from eating properly, serotonin release is also triggered by remembering past successes. The badge cabinet of a gamified Learning Management System lets learners get a serotonin rush on demand whenever they look at rewards they have earned.

6. Playing Games Releases Endorphins

The thrill and excitement of playing a game is the result of endorphins being released. Endorphins are the body’s natural painkiller but they can also lower stress and anxiety levels, and even create a sense of euphoria. Combined with other neurotransmitters,this helps create an ideal environment for focused learning.

7. Playing Games Keeps The Brain Fit

Studies have shown that gameplay can improve brain functions. In a study conducted by BBC’s Horizon, a test group of older subjects played a popular racing game for 15 hours over 5 weeks. When they were evaluated after that period, their memory and attention span scores had improved by around 30%.

8. Gameplay Reduces Stress

Cortisol is known as the stress hormone and it controls the body’s reaction to stressful situations. When it comes to learning, high levels of cortisol force the brain into survival mode, distracting from the learning in order to deal with the stress. Results of a Texas A&M International University study showed that “games reduce depression and hostile feelings in players through mood management.”

9. Gamification Helps Deal With Cognitive Overload

The brain can only handle a finite amount of information. If the cognitive load is too great, the learner could miss information, resulting in incomplete training. One way that gamification can deal with cognitive load is to present the learning in a more game-like, challenge-based format. Along with the other neurological benefits of gamification, this approach helps to chunk the learning into smaller pieces that are easier to retain.

10. Games Teach Work Skills

The workforce is filling with people who grew up playing complex video games that require a lot of intricate coordination. By commanding a Roman army to victory or managing the facilities of a virtual city, players can gain skills like resource management and prioritisation.

These young people may be better equipped to switch between tasks easily, adapt to new information, and modify their strategy as new input comes in.” – Judy Willis, M.D., American Academy of Neurology

With gamification and game-based learning producing some outstanding results, the scientific community is conducting more and more research into the power of gameplay in non-game scenarios.

Original article by Juliette Denny

Despite the fact that in comparative development corporate eLearning has grown by a stunning 900% since 2000, multiple training programs are still offered in an old-fashioned way of delivering eLearning courses. This leads to limited engagement and in some cases to the failure of the whole training programme.Those are the most common issues that eLearning programs face today.

Video Version of the Article

1. Lack Of Engagement

Many trainees may quit courses or simply skip classes outright if they perceive them as boring. Older training programs were mostly one-dimensional, mainly made of text.

By 2019, video will be in charge of 80% of the web activity on the planet.

This is because of the fact that modern learners are hungry for media. Thus, unless there are enough videos, sounds, and graphics, the content won’t engage the users. Besides, it’s crucial for eLearning programs to offer a sense of progression and achievement to the users. People like to feel a sense of achievement whenever they do something. Employees are no different when it comes to training and development. Therefore, there must be gamified tests and ways for the learners to check their progression, otherwise they may feel that they are not getting anywhere. Having that in mind, course designers may want to add leaderboards along with a ranking system that will definitely boost competition among the learners and eventually improve user dedication towards the program.

2. Lack Of Interactivity

A simple demonstration of new knowledge is not enough. It is of utmost importance to provide opportunities to the learners to actively engage with the tutors, other students or even the course itself. The learner needs to practice his/her new skills in meaningful activities and interact with other students in a variety of conversations. This interactivity will help the student overcome the fear created because of the insecurity the distance barrier brings about. Educators play a vital role, since they can make students interact and cooperate with other participants in a synchronous or asynchronous way, encouraging them to respond to their questions by creating a learning community. To learn more about the need for interactivity in eLearning programmes click here

3. Teacher-Centered Approach/Inadequate Educators

Educators should be present but should not be dominant. They should steer the conversation but never monopolize the discussion. They should interact with the learners frequently and make sure everyone has the chance to participate but they shouldn’t, under any circumstances, overshadow them. The educator has to be active and well informed in order to provide continuous support when needed. This is essential, since feedback must be regular so that the learner will not feel abandoned in an inactive or a low-value training program.

4. Information Overload

In order to minimize logistical expenses, it’s common for companies to offer intensive training programs that last for a day or even days. The reality is that people can’t absorb and remember all of that information in that limited amount of time, meaning that even more than usual of what’s taught will be quickly forgotten and eventually lost.

Millennials have a shorter attention span compared to previous generations, making the breaking of eLearning material into more manageable chunks of information necessary. This is called microlearning. Microlearning breaks information content into small-, easy-, and fast-to-consume parts, which helps learners achieve one distinctive objective at a time. You can read more about microlearning here

5. Need For Real-World Application

The Research Institute of America found that eLearning increases retention rates from 25% to 60%, while retention rates of face-to-face training are very low in comparison: 8% to 10%. On the other hand, if the learner doesn’t use the acquired skills after training, knowledge retention will diminish fast. It is a common mistake for some training programs not to give the learner a way to practice new knowledge.

A successful training program is necessary to provide the user with the means to connect the information learned in real-life situations. So the program should incorporate ways for the learner to practice new knowledge After all, a training program delivers value for an organization only when it aligns with employees’ expectations and improves business performance.

6. Not Mobile Friendly

An eLearning course has to be not only meaningful and engaging but easily accessible as well. If the training program is not mobile optimized, then it is highly doubtful that it will satisfy the participants’ needs. People use mobile devices a lot more than they use personal computers. This is because it’s possible to use portable devices whenever, wherever. People use mobile devices all day long. They watch videos, play video games or interact with others while laying on their beds, while waiting at the metro station, or even while watching TV. Therefore, eLearning training programs should be developed in a way that will be friendly for mobile devices.

It is certain that there are other factors which contribute to the failure of some eLearning training programs but those mentioned in this article are some of the most common ones. If those 6 issues are taken into consideration, many potential issues won't arise, and the trainees will definitely enjoy a far more intriguing and productive learning experience.

 

The article was originally posted at https://elearningindustry.com/elearning-programs-fail-tips-avoid-failure

Saturday, 17 November 2018 11:18

Panolingo – Learn Languages in VR

panolingo logo is a relatively new application that stands out from the plethora of Virtual Reality tools for learning foreign languages ​​that are available nowadays. The main reason for that is the excellent quality of the graphic depictions in the application. High-quality 360 ° panoramas are able to offer the user the viewing of environments in a natural way therefore enhancing the immersion of use, while limiting possible feelings of nausea due to the use of the medium.

 

The user through real life scenarios is required to complete activities by locating objects. For example, starting from his bed, the user is asked to locate his slippers in order to get up and then he has to find the door to get to the bathroom. The instructions for the execution of these actions are in English through incitements and natural expressions. This visualization of the necessary information will strengthen the imprinting on the user's subconscious, as it helps him to connect the new knowledge with real objects, in a really efficient way.

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Panolingo - Learn Languages ​​in VR offers a point system, personal progress check and leaderboards for enhanced competition. Those features support the enhanced maintenance of the user's interest over time.Finally, it should be noted that there is also a conventional version in which the use of an HMD is not required.

With regard to its technical features, the application works seamlessly with the most popular HMDs such as Google Cardboard, Oculus Gear, Archos VR etc. At this stage, it is only available for Android but will soon be available for iOS devices while adding more languages ​​other than English.In conclusion, Panolingo is an excellent solution for a home-based tool, and is aimed at teachers who want to introduce Virtual Reality technology into the learning process.

Friday, 05 October 2018 16:00

Blind Kahoots

So you have been using Kahoot! to evaluate students for a while now, but have you ever considered to implement Kahoot! when presenting a new lesson or concept?

Blind Kahoot Video

While many people create and play kahoots for review, formative assessment or to re-energise the class, others are using Kahoot! differently in a new approach called Blind Kahoot. Blind kahoots are designed to give every learner a chance to feel success and motivation throughout the game, and with long lasting effects. In a single game, you’ll be sparking curiosity about the new topic, laying the foundations for understanding increasingly complex concepts, and giving learners the opportunity to immediately and successfully apply their knowledge.

 Below are a few steps that you can have in mind while creating your own Blind Kahoots

  • Introduce the game to let learners know what to expect, and that it's about learning, not about getting all of the answers right the first time.
  • Use a "Blind" question (a question about something completely new to them) to spark curiosity, so learners are more receptive to the explanation.
  • Explain the answer
  • Reinforce using a series of questions focused solely on what they have just learned
  • Another Blind question prompts learners to actively listen to the explanation - this is a great opportunity to teach subtleties, exceptions to the rule or to build on what they have just learned
  • Reinforce with another series of questions solely about the most recent Blind question
  • Now use Compound Reinforcement to help learners consolidate everything they have learned in the whole kahoot
Monday, 24 September 2018 07:24

Mondly VR

If you tell me I'll listen if you show me I'll see but if you let me experience I will learn.

Lao-Tse 

mondly vr 4

Mondly VR is a new application by Mondly, which uses virtual reality to help students expand their language learning skills. What makes Mondly VR stand out is its language recognition ability. Users can take part in conversations with virtual characters in a variety of different real life scenarios. Those scenarios include talking to a taxi driver, a hotel hostess, a waitress in a restaurant a stranger at the train station and a few other interesting choices.

Inside the application

I was really shocked when I first found out that you can practice from a selection of over 30 languages. Obviously the first step is to select the desired language. After the language is selected you are supposed to pick the conversational situation that you would like to engage with.

Mondly VR learn 30 languages in Virtual Reality

The conversation begins when the virtual character asks you a question or makes a remark. Then, you are prompt with a series of answers in the language you have picked at the very first stage of the application as well as their explanation in English. As soon as you pick a suitable answer you will hear a voice which pronounces the answer. Afterwards your task is to repeat the answer. If your answer is detected as correct the conversation continues. Otherwise you are kindly asked to repeat your saying. Note though that the voice recognition mechanisms of the app are not flawless and need to be improved.

It is also worth mentioning that the level of difficulty between each conversation is different. For example it’s way easier to have a short chat with a passenger in the train, and harder if you are trying to reserve a hotel room.

choicevr

Level of interactivity and immersion

Although one shouldn't expect object manipulation by the user, it can be concluded that the level of interactity is higher than other similar applications, thus leading to a more immersive experience. After all immersive VR experiences are considered more advantageous compared to less immersive ones. In my opinion this characteristic of the app, along with the beautiful graphics make MondlyVR worth giving a try.

Specs and characteristics

Mondly VR is a paid application which is available for Android smartphones (inside a Cardboard obviously) and Oculus rift. You can read more about the application at their official site here 

Final thoughts

All in all, Mondly VR is a decent attempt to combine language learning with VR but certainly needs work in order to steal the show.

Τι είναι η παιχνιδοποίηση στη μάθηση; Πώς ενσωματώνεται η παιχνιδοποίηση στο νεο πρόγραμμα JUMP του εκπαιδευτικού ομίλου QLS; 

Παιχνιδοποίηση

Δεκάδες δραστηριότητες σήμερα μας εμπλέκουν σε μια διαδικασία συλλογής πόντων. Από την αγορά του πρωινού καφέ, την επίσκεψη στο σουπερμάρκετ της γειτονιάς, μέχρι την συλλογή πόντων για τα καύσιμα του αυτοκινήτου και τα ταξίδια μας. Τα προηγούμενα αποτελούν παραδείγματα παιχνιδοποίησης στην καθημερινότητα των περισσοτέρων από εμάς.

Η παιχνιδοποίηση (gamification) είναι η χρήση των μηχανισμών παιχνιδιού σε μη παιγνιώδεις καταστάσεις  (Detering, Dixon, Khaled, & Nacke, 2011). Με αυτό τον τρόπο γίνεται χρήση των στοιχείων που διέπουν τα παιχνίδια, ώστε άμεσα να βελτιωθεί η εμπειρία του χρήστη και να ενισχυθεί το ενδιαφέρον του, οδηγώντας τον εντέλει σε μεγαλύτερη αφοσίωση με το προϊόν.

What is microlearning? Can it improve students' engagement? Is it more advantageous compared to traditional ways of delivering content? Should microlearning be used in every single course? 

Wednesday, 14 February 2018 11:06

Virtual Speech (Language VR)

 

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Undoubtedly, virtual reality has been one of the most discussed topics between educators since the past year. Multiple applications try to exploit its characteristics in order to enhance students’ learning process.

Virtual Speech (Language VR) is an application which through scenarios and a wide range of language situations, aims to use the virtual reality to teach foreign languages. Besides English the user can choose between the following languages: French, Spanish, Portuguese, German and Chinese. Russian, Japanese, Italian and Korean are soon to be released.

 

 Originally the app was developed to help people learn English through simulations of the English culture and landmarks. The idea behind this was to create a more exciting way of learning in a virtual environment. Research shows that visual representations help in maintaining information and learning new vocabulary (Jones, 2010). In addition the use of images helps in making abstract ideas more specific to students.

 

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Below are listed the categories that the user can pick from.

Experience Culture: Virtual Reality (VR) is the possible solution for creating genuine language learning environments in EFL countries for a variety of reasons. The most beneficial part of using VR is the creation of those situations that simulate the physical environment through digital representation (Chen & Chen, 2016). London, Cotswolds, Warwick, Cornwall and many other British places are available to visit.

Language VR VirtualSpeech Screeenshot

Vocabulary: The user is asked to locate various objects in beautiful and well-designed rooms. Despite the fact that we really liked this option it should be mentioned that the free version of the app includes only room.

RED vr language app vocab office

Audiobook Chapters: The user can choose to listen to renowned books such as Treasure Island or Alice in the Wonderland. Of course, it would be an addition if moving or static images could be added as to enhance the student's involvement.

Basic Tenses: The player interacts with different shapes and objects trying to put them in order while creating sentences. Each object represents a single word. At the moment the user can choose from Present Simple, Past Simple and Future Simple.

Numbers: A realistic space ship simulation game in which the player tries to maneuver his spacecraft to the right number. It's not just a language learning game, but it certainly enriches the whole experience.

Roleplaying Speeches: It is a fact that through virtual reality it is possible to simulate situations that would be either too expensive or unfeasible to perform (Dávideková, et al., 2017). On this axis the user can simulate a speech, an interview, make a reservation for a hotel etc. It is a fact that there is no feedback based on what is said, but this may have had dubious results and would certainly require some financial consideration such as the purchase of the application.

Rewards and statistics: Finally, it is possible to record some of the user's achievements which are earned after completing certain activities.

Language VR will help teach English language and culture by providing photorealistic virtual reality environments to students to talk, listen, interact, and ultimately play.

The application is fully compatible with Google Cardboard and is available for Android, IOS, and GearVR devices. You can find out more here https://virtualspeech.com/

 

Bibliography

Chen, X. and Chen, M. (2016). The Application of Virtual Reality Technology in the EFL Learning Environment in China. Proceedings of the 2016 International Conference on Sensor Network and Computer Engineering.

Dávideková, M., Mjartan, M. and Greguš, M. (2017). Use of Virtual Reality in Education of Employees in Slovakia. Computer Science, 113, pp. 253-260.

Jones, A.D. (2010). Science through photography. Science through photography. Science and Children, 47 (5), 26-30.

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