Staff profiles

Project lead
Professor Andrew Lynch
Position
Winthrop Professor
School/area
Humanities
Faculty
English and Cultural Studies
Team member
Dr Michael Ovens

Project outline

This project seeks to integrate and evaluate the use of the radically innovative motion-controlled virtual reality game ‘Thy Enemy’ in the classroom setting of the ‘Reading the Middle Ages’ unit. Through this technology students will gain a deeper understanding of how performances of combat shaped the production of medieval literature and history. The use of virtual reality in education is a new and radically innovative field; this project has the potential to set the stage for UWA to become a world leader in this field.

Using the new HTC Vive Virtual Reality platform, the project will enable students to learn and receive feedback about the performances and emotions of medieval violence while immersed in the simulated context of a thirteenth-century combat. The Secondment of Michael Ovens (a UWA PhD candidate & ‘Thy Enemy’ developer) to the Centre for Education Futures, will seed the development of a vibrant ‘hackerspace’ at the Futures Observatory, a community of developers and virtual reality innovators able to create new teaching and learning technologies.

‘Thy Enemy’ allows for a unique form of mobile and experiential learning with in-built choices and questions that provide students the opportunity to receive feedback from the tutor as they are guided through the virtual world. The game’s source-files and screen-captured recordings will be made available to students via UWA’s online Learning Management System (LMS). The project will undertake a detailed evaluation of the efficacy of both the game and the technology in order to facilitate the future use of evidence based learning at UWA and to guide staff on the integration of virtual reality technology into their classroom.

Project findings

The project was a great success. The HTC Vive virtual reality device and Thine Enemy educational experience were both well received in the two evaluation tutorial sessions. Students showed significant quantitative improvement on their ability to visualise the depicted scene from the week’s Alliterative Morte Arthure readings and reported qualitative enthusiasm for the experience. The project had additional success in attracting a West Australian Network for Dissemination (WAND) Small Grant, and an essay derived from the project won the George Yule Postgraduate Essay Prize at the 2016 Australian and New Zealand Association for Medieval and Early Modern Studies (ANZAMEMS) conference and is to be published in an edited collection. The findings of this project are in the process of being disseminated at a series of events and scaled up through the development of additional virtual reality experiences, the acquisition of new hardware by various university units, and the formation of a new Centre for Digital Humanities within the Faculty of Arts, Business, Law, and Education (FABLE).

Disseminations

  • WAND Dissemination Event, Easy, Effective, Exciting:Virtual Reality in Teaching & Learning. Futures Observatory, UWA 7 June 2017.
  • Let’s Talk Teaching Presentation, UWA School of Humanities Faculty Event 9 June 2017.
  • WAND Celebration, brief presentations from all winners of a WAND Small Grant, 21 June 2017.
  • Edited Volume (TBD) 2017 Essay in Routledge Handbook of Digital Medieval Literature and Culture.
  • Journal Article (TBD) 2018 Peer-reviewed article in Parergon.


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