Through the Simlandia project, we are conducting a systematic program of study to identify cognitive-processing based design approaches that may provide additional learning power to virtual world-based situated inquiry curriculum by reducing learner cognitive load.
Three-dimensional virtual worlds that afford learners interaction with other humans and software-based agents, both represented through characters called “avatars,” as part of an exploratory environment. In these environments, learners can interact with various situated objects (including images, sounds, and other multimedia content) while communicating and collaborating with other learners to investigate scenarios and solve problems of varying complexity.
As a test platform, we built a custom version of the River City virtual world called SimLandia that contains an immersive science inquiry curriculum. With this platform, we can conduct controlled experiments in which we alter one or more design features based on specific multimedia principles.