The city of uruk: Teaching ancient history in a virtual world

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Lecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics), 2012, 7502 LNAI pp. 28 - 35
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In this paper we show how 3D Virtual Worlds can be utilised for teaching ancient history. Our goal is to build an accurate replica of one of humanity's first cities in a 3D Virtual World and provide history students with facilities to explore the virtual city and learn about its past in the simulated 3D environment. Unlike the majority of similar historical reconstructions, an important feature of our approach is having virtual agents that are capable of simulating everyday life of ancient inhabitants, which includes common tasks like eating, sleeping, working and communicating with one another. In order to offer educational value the agents act as autonomous tutors and are capable of sensing the students through their avatars and interact with them both in terms of performing joint actions and through verbal communication. We show how such virtual environments can be built, explain the technology behind its artificial intelligence controlled population and highlight the corresponding educational benefits. To validate the impact of using the 3D environment and virtual agents in history education we conducted a case study that confirmed the beneficial educational aspects of our approach. © 2012 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.
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