Developing a language learning system that appropriates the affordances of VR
This presentation concerns the current iteration of a VR system designed to promote speaking skills as participants carry out collaborative tasks. In a former study, a simpler system was used to explore the effect of modality on learners’ foreign language anxiety (FLA) where results suggested that participants anxiety was statistically significantly lower in the VR environment compared to video-chat. However, of three key affordances—presence, interactivity, and autonomy—the previous system only focused on presence. The current system also features an interactive component and was used in a comparative study against the previous (presence-only) system. The research question was: does more-fully utilizing the affordances of VR lower or increase students’ FLA?
In a counterbalanced design, 30 participants (15 pairs) completed a spot-the-difference task in two different VR domains: interactive-VR and non-interactive-VR. Results of a post-experimental questionnaire suggested that there was no difference in participants’ FLA for the two domains. However, a significant difference was found in terms of ease of communication and enjoyment which favoured the interactive-VR mode. Additionally, compared to predictions that the interactive task would be more cognitively demanding, it was considered simpler than the non-interactive task by the participants. This suggests that using more of the affordances of VR by increasing interactivity further may make the embodied experience more life-like and therefore increase opportunities for learning.
This presentation introduces the system, pedagogical implications, and future research directions.