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Interaction design and usability of learning spaces in 3D multi-user virtual worlds

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  • Communication
  • Design
  • Education
  • Psychology


Three-dimensional virtual worlds are multimedia, simulated environments, often managed over the Web, which users can 'inhabit' and interact via their own graphical self-representations known as 'avatars'. 3D virtual worlds are being used in many applications: education/training, gaming, social networking, marketing and commerce. Second Life is the most widely used 3D virtual world in education. However, problems associated with usability, navigation and wayfinding in 3D virtual worlds may impact on student learning and engagement. Based on empirical investigations of learning spaces in Second Life, this paper presents design guidelines to improve the usability and ease of navigation in 3D spaces. Methods of data collection include semi-structured interviews with Second Life students, educators and designers. The findings have revealed that design principles from the fields of urban planning, Human-Computer Interaction, Web usability, geography and psychology can influence the design of spaces in 3D multi-user virtual environments.

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