|ViRPlay3D: The evolution of a Virtual Environment Based on Active Learning to teach Object-Oriented Design Concepts|
In view of the promising results obtained in the classrooms we started the development of a Role-Play Virtual Environment RPVE), a virtual environment rich in design information where students mimic the interactions produced in a role-play session in order to simulate an execution scenario from a case study. ViRPlay3D is a single-user environment where a user visualizes the message passing among objects in order to understand the objects’ behavior in a case study. The user is represented in the RPVE by an avatar that wanders around the virtual world interacting with other entities in order to achieve information about the classes, objects and messages passed. Additionally, the user controls the simulation execution and she can test her understanding about the simulation configuring the next message passing and asking for its execution.
VirPlay3D defines our first attempt in order to give a visual metaphor to the abstract concepts defined in the object-oriented paradigm. The representation of objects and message passing was solved in an easy way, using the same metaphors employed in the real world role-play sessions: the objects that intervene in the role-play session are represented by anthropomorphical 3D models and the message passing is represented by throwing a ball. Additionally, the man who holds theball in the RPVE represents the current active object in the role-play simulation. We decided to represent the classes with blocks with a plate containing the class name.
Every entity in the environment that should contain information has an inventory accessible by the user. Class and object entities contain information about the class design and the object state, respectively. Additionally, the ball contains information about the last message passed. ViRPlay3D provided users with an avatar to interact with the different entities in the environment. The user explores the environment controlling the avatar and looks up the entities’ inventories using the “Look at” action. The user also controls the role-play execution, deciding when to execute the next scripted simulation step. Moreover, the user can undo the simulation and even restart it. The active part of the user in the role-play session was enhanced in ViRPlay3D providing the user the opportunity to test her current knowledge. At any time the user can try to guess the next simulation step. ViRPlay3D compares this information with the next step in the role-play script. If it is correct, the message passing is performed. Otherwise, the environment informs that the configured step is wrong, and let the user select if she wants to try again or if the environment executes automatically the message passing reflected in the role-play script.