After a two-year hiatus, the twelfth Construction in the Twenty First Century conference returned, this year, in Amman, Jordan. We at MAVRiC are very pleased to have attended this year and it goes without saying that we had an amazing time, as always. Not only did we attend, but we also presented not one, but two papers which are soon to be published in a proceeding following! We’re excited to share these papers with you and until then, we wanted to share a little bit more on what they’re about…
We have developed two papers on the subject on VR Enabled Participatory Design of Educational Spaces. Our first paper titled “Developing a VR Research Instrument for Participatory Design of Educational Spaces” discusses the VR application development itself, highlighting the challenges and processes of developing an application for participatory design. The second paper, titled “VR-enabled Participatory Design of Educational Spaces: An Experiential Approach”, discusses our primary data collection, highlighting the questions and answers obtained in order to inform the application development. Our goal was to develop a VR application which links designers (such as architects or technologists) with end users (in this case, teachers) by relaying a series of design options in VR to the end users to make informed decisions about.
Our Key Findings
So what have we learnt? Well, you’ll have to check our papers for that… But we don’t want to leave you empty handed, so here’s our top 10 findings:
- Application tutorials are a crucial step to effective participatory design. Just over half of the users were familiar with the principles of classroom design, and to effectively familiarize themselves with these design elements, the steps to learn the VR aspects (locomotion, selection, etc.) needed to be minimal and intuitive.
- One of the most important parts of classroom design is storage. 8/10 participants questioned used classroom storage more than three times a day and 9/10 preferred storage within the classroom where it is accessible.
- Lighting design is just as important as the furniture design. Lighting was raised both in our primary and secondary data collection, elements such as intensity and colour were established as desirable elements.
- Designers and Developers need to be proactive in obtaining end-user participation. Teachers will not come to the designers, the designers need to come to them, or face missing these valuable opinions!
- Providing design options nurtures cognitive thinking in participants. Having freedom of design is certainly desirable but this can sometimes be overwhelming, we established in our secondary data collection that even with fixed options, a conversation is raised and cognitive thinking is manifested despite the limitation in design.
- Participatory design helps broaden the designer’s comprehension of the user. Designers might have an idea of what the user wants, and we found that establishing this platform of conversation helps deepen this understanding.
- Exclude technical/regulatory elements from participatory design where possible. The designer should not expect the user to understand the regulations surrounding the building, and including this can deter from natural and intuitive design decisions.
- Game engines give a flexibility that off the shelf products do not offer. We certainly investigated off the shelf solutions, however many lacked features regarding optioneering, and artificial lighting changes, as well as recording decisions made by the user.
- Locomotion needs to be a smooth as possible. Anything that can induce motion sickness, etc., can be seen as a deterrent to effective design decisions and this needs to be as smooth as possible, utilizing teleportation and snap rotation.
- People are more familiar with Virtual Reality than you think! 8/10 participants were familiar with Virtual Reality, a really positive figure to see and likely because this tool can be utilisised by teachers and academics within their classrooms.
Lastly, here are a few images of the application itself!
If there is one thing that we have taken from CITC12 is that we have sorely missed in person conferences! It was fantastic to be able to be sharing ideas around the same table as our fellow researchers. Not only that, but it was also wonderful to see all the incredible sights Jordan has to offer. While in Jordan, we visited the Citadel as well as the Dead Sea and of course, Petra! For some of us, Jordan was not on our ‘travel bucket lists’ so to speak, but by the end of the trip, we realized that it certainly should have been.
Lastly, we would like to thank the conference organisers for putting on yet another amazing conference. We would also like to thank those who attended and made it such an enjoyable trip, we look forward to seeing you again soon!