1.2. Structure of the Thesis

This thesis is divided into four primary chapters: the Background and Related Work chapter, the chapter on the Design and Implementation of the NICE project, the Evaluation chapter, and Conclusions.

The Background and Related Work chapter (Chapter 2) focuses on three general areas related to the research of this thesis. The first section discusses learning theories that are influencing the design of current educational environments, and their relationship to computer-based learning. The second section outlines the current state of virtual reality in education, by reviewing text-based, desktop, and immersive VR environments for learning, as well as highlighting the value of VR for education. The third section, briefly mentions the different assessment approaches taken in educational evaluation, and discusses whether VR requires new and different assessment techniques.

The next chapter (Chapter 3) describes the design and implementation of the NICE project, the specific virtual learning environment on which this thesis is based on. The three sections discuss the objectives, the ongoing design process of the project, and finally the architecture which ties together all the components of the system.

The chapter on Evaluation (Chapter 4) is divided into four main sections. The theoretical framework section proposes a structure for the evaluation of immersive VR learning environments. The evaluation methodology section outlines the methods and setting for the experiments. This is followed by the next two sections, which describe the initial and main studies conducted with children and conclude with an analysis of the observed results.

The final chapter of the thesis (Chapter 5) covers the conclusions drawn from this work and describes possible future additions.