Investigating the potential of on-line 3D virtual environments to improve access to museums as both an informational and educational resource




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De Montfort University


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Peer reviewed


New digital technological possibilities allow physical museum artefacts to be transferred into a virtual environment using 3D computer models with rich information content for educational purposes. However, although several museum websites have applied relevant educational theories to learning activities in these 3D environments, these alone are not enough to develop 3D museum environments without consideration of virtual visiting styles in the learning context. This research addresses the relationship between visiting styles and the design of 3D museum environments based on pedagogic approaches for learning efficacy.

Relevant literature on the nature of web-based museum systems was reviewed. Three stages of primary research (a critical review, observations and interviews) were also conducted in this study. The critical review examined the use of 3D technologies in current museum websites in terms of informational aspects and the learning context. The observation studies identified the relationship between visitor behaviours and associated learning activities within 3D museum environments. The interviews further elicited experts’ views and were used to test the research hypotheses.

A theoretical design reference model was developed. Initially based on the Reeves multimedia design model, the model consists of three phases: analysis, design and assessment. A prototype 3D exhibition was created based on the theoretical model and two pedagogic approaches. Evaluation of this showed that the design of the exhibits with rich multimedia formats had the potential for more effective visitor learning. The two pedagogic approaches encouraged the related visiting style(s), leading to a deeper engagement with the content and ultimately improving learning efficiency.



3D virtual museum, virtual visiting styles, pedagogic approaches



Research Institute