Investigating Mixed-Reality Teaching and Learning Environments for Future Demands: The Trainers’ Perspective

  • Lana PlumannsEmail author
  • Thorsten Sommer
  • Katharina Schuster
  • Anja Richert
  • Sabina Jeschke


The first three industrial revolutions were characterized by the invention of water and steam engine, centralized electric power infrastructure and mass production as well as digital computing and communications technology. The current developments caused by the fourth revolution, also known as “Industry 4.0”, pose major challenges to almost every kind of work, workplace, and the employees. Due to the concepts of cyber-physical systems, Internet of Things and the increasing globalization, remote work is a fast-growing trend in the workplace, and educational strategies within virtual worlds become more important. Especially methods as teaching and learning within virtual worlds are expected to have an enormous impact on advanced education in the future. However, it is not trivial to transfer a reliable educational method from real to the virtual worlds. Therefore, it is important to adapt, check and change even small didactic elements to guarantee a sustainable learning success. As there is a lot of ongoing research about using virtual worlds for the training of hazardous situations, it has to be figured out which potential those environments bear for the everyday education of academic staff and which competencies and educational support trainers need to have respectively can give in those worlds. The used approach for this study was to investigate the trainers’ didactic perspective on mixed-reality teaching and learning. A total of ten trainers from different areas in Germany took part in this study. Every participant pursued both roles: the teaching and the learning part in a virtual learning environment. In order to assess the learning success and important key factors the experiment yields data from the participants’ behavior, their answers to a semi-structured interview and video analysis, recorded from the virtual world. Resulting data were analyzed by using different qualitative as well as quantitative methods. The findings of this explorative research suggest the potential for learning in virtual worlds and give inside into influencing variables. The online gaming experience and the age of participants can be shown to be related to participants’ performance in the virtual world. It looks like the barriers for the affected trainers are low regarding utilization of virtual worlds. Together with the mentioned advantages and possible usages, the potential of these setups is shown.


Education Mixed-Reality Teaching Virtual World 



This work is part of the project “ELLI – Excellent Teaching and Learning in Engineering Sciences” and was funded by the federal ministry of education and research, Germany.


  1. 1.
    C.B. Frey, M.A. Osborne. The future of employment: how susceptible are jobs to computerisation?, 2013Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. Industrie 4.0 und Digitale Wirtschaft: Impulse für Wachstum, Beschäftigung und Innovation, 04/2015Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    R. Geissbauer, S. Schrauf, V. Koch, S. Kuge. Industrie 4.0: Chancen und Herausforderung der vierten industriellen Revolution, 10/2014Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    S. Jeschke. Everything 4.0 – drivers and challenges of cyber physical systems, 04.12.2013.
  5. 5.
    K. Schuster, K. Groß, R. Vossen, A. Richert, Preparing for industry 4.0 – collaborative virtual learning environments in engineering education. In: The International Conference on E-Learning in the Workplace Conference Proceedings, ed. by D. Guralnick. 2015Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    A. Sursock, Trends 2015: Learning and Teaching in European Universities. Brussels, Belgium, 2015Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    P. Moreno-Ger, I. Martinez-Ortiz, M. Freire, B. Manero, B. Fernandez-Manjon, Serious games: A journey from research to application. In: Frontiers in Education Conference Proceedings. 2014, pp. 1–4.  10.1109/FIE.2014.7044052
  8. 8.
    R.S. Baker, Educational data mining: An advance for intelligent systems in education. IEEE Intelligent Systems 29 (3), 2014, pp. 78–82.  10.1109/MIS.2014.42 Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    M. Tesar, K. Stöckelmayr, R. Pucher, M. Ebner, J. Metscher, F. Vohle, Multimediale und interaktive Materialien: Gestaltung von Materialien zum Lernen und Lehren. In: Lehrbuch für Lernen und Lehren mit Technologien, ed. by M. Ebner, S. Schön, 2013Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    W. LeRoy Heinrichs, P. Youngblood, P.M. Harter, P. Dev, Simulation for team training and assessment: case studies of online training with virtual worlds. World journal of surgery 32 (2), 2008, pp. 161–170.  10.1007/s00268-007-9354-2 Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    J.L. Encarnação. Serious games, ss 2008, 2008Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    P. Sawers. 60% of uk employees working remotely within a decade, 22.02.2012.
  13. 13.
    R. Ubell, Virtual Teamwork: Mastering the Art and Practice of Online Learning and Corporate Collaboration. Wiley, New York, 2010Google Scholar
  14. 14.
  15. 15.
    K. Schuster, Einfluss natürlicher Benutzerschnittstellen zur Steuerung des Sichtfeldes und der Fortbewegung auf Rezeptionsprozesse in virtuellen Lernumgebungen. Dissertation, RWTH Aachen University, Aachen, [Im Druck]Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    D. Short, Teaching scientific concepts using a virtual world - minecraft. Teaching Science (3), 2012, pp. 55–58Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    C. Schifter, M. Cipollone, Minecraft as a teaching tool: One case study. In: Proceedings of Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference, ed. by R. McBride, M. Searson. Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), 2013, pp. 2951–2955Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    S. Höntzsch, U. Katzky, K. Bredl, F. Kappe, D. Krause, Simulationen und simulierte Welten: Lernen in immersiven Lernumgebungen. In: Lehrbuch für Lernen und Lehren mit Technologien, ed. by M. Ebner, S. Schön, 2013Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    K.A. Wilson, W.L. Bedwell, E.H. Lazzara, E. Salas, C.S. Burke, J.L. Estock, K.L. Orvis, C. Conkey, Relationships between game attributes and learning outcomes: Review and research proposals. Simulation & Gaming 40 (2), 2008, pp. 217–266. doi: 10.1177/1046878108321866 Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    E.J. Simpson, The classification of educational objectives in the psychomotor domain. Gryphon House, Washington, DC, 1972Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    M. Dezuanni, J. O’Mara, C. Beavis, ‘redstone is like electricity’: Children’s performative representations in and around minecraft. E-Learning and Digital Media (12(2)), 2015, pp. 147–163. doi: 10.1177/2042753014568176 Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    M. Herkersdorf. Virtuell-interaktives Training (vipol) - eine bundesweit einmalige Lösung der Polizei BW, 15.10.2013.
  23. 23.
    C. Lecon, M. Herkersdorf, Virtual blended learning virtual 3d worlds and their integration in teaching scenarios. In: Computer Science Education (ICCSE), 2014 9th International Conference on. 2014, pp. 153–158. doi: 10.1109/ICCSE.2014.6926446

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lana Plumanns
    • 1
    Email author
  • Thorsten Sommer
    • 1
  • Katharina Schuster
    • 1
  • Anja Richert
    • 1
  • Sabina Jeschke
    • 1
  1. 1.IMA/ZLW & IfU, RWTH Aachen UniversityAachenGermany

Personalised recommendations