Nisiotis, Louis; Alboul, Lyuba (2020) Work-in-Progress—Converging Virtual Reality, Robots, and Social Networks to Support Immersive Learning. In Conference Proceedings. Immersive Learning Research Network (Vol. 308, p. 311).

This work-in-progress paper describes the development of a conceptually led Cyber-Physical-Social EcoSystem (CPSeS) that seamlessly blends the real with the digital worlds using VR, Robots and Social Networking technologies to support immersive learning. The proposed CPSeS can bring students together by merging the real with virtual social spaces, enabling them to interact with each other, and with real and digital environments through physical and virtual robots. The framework used to design this system provides opportunities for developing innovative interactive systems and educational approaches to support and enhance immersive learning.

Nisiotis, Louis; Alboul, Lyuba; Beer, Martin. (2020) "A Prototype that Fuses Virtual Reality, Robots, and Social Networks to Create a New Cyber–Physical–Social Eco-Society System for Cultural Heritage." Sustainability 12, no. 2: 645.

With the rapid development of technology and the increasing use of social networks, many opportunities for the design and deployment of interconnected systems arise that could enable a paradigm shift in the ways we interact with cultural heritage. The project described in this paper aims to create a new type of conceptually led environment, a kind of Cyber–Physical–Social Eco-Society (CPSeS) system that would seamlessly blend the real with virtual worlds interactively using Virtual Reality, Robots, and Social Networking technologies, engendered by humans’ interactions and intentions. The project seeks to develop new methods of engaging the current generation of museum visitors, who are influenced by their exposure to modern technology such as social media, smart phones, Internet of Things, smart devices, and visual games, by providing a unique experience of exploring and interacting with real and virtual worlds simultaneously. The research envisions a system that connects visitors to events and/or objects separated either in time or in space, or both, providing social meeting points between them. To demonstrate the attributes of the proposed system, a Virtual Museum scenario has been chosen. The following pages will describe the RoboSHU: Virtual Museum prototype, its capabilities and features, and present a generic development framework that will also be applicable to other contexts and sociospatial domains.

Nisiotis, L., & Kleanthous, S. (2019) The Relationship Between Students' Engagement and the Development of Transactive Memory Systems in MUVE: An Experience Report.publication. In Proceedings of the 2019 ACM Conference on Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education (pp. 71-77). ACM

The use of educational Multi-User Virtual Environments that provide synchronous interaction, interactive and social learning experiences have the potential to increase student engagement. Due to increased social and cognitive presence, the use of such environments can result in greater student engagement when compared to traditional asynchronous learning environments. In this work, we hypothesized that students’ engagement in collaborative learning activities will increase if Transactive Memory System constructs are present. Thus, we employed the theory of TMS that emphasizes the importance of Specialization, Coordination and Credibility between members in a team. The results show that there is a significant correlation between the development of TMS and students’ engagement.

Nisiotis, L., Alboul, L., & Beer, M .Virtual Museums as a New Type of Cyber-Physical-Social System. In The 6th International Conference on Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and Computer Graphics

Museums are institutions that primarily care for cultural heritage exhibition, preservation and conservation of historical artifacts. However, simply displaying artifacts and provide complex information to describe them is simply not sufficient to effectively engage museum visitors. To improve visitors engagement and their overall museum experience, the use of technology utilized by museums, introducing the concept of Virtual Museums. This paper discusses the use of Virtual Reality through the use of smart phone devices as a mean of a Cyber-Physical-Social system to support, improve and enhance the visitors’ experience.
The RoboSHU prototype, its current development stage and future work are presented, together with the future research directions of the research team.

Alboul, L., Beer, M., & Nisiotis, L. (2019). Merging Realities in Space and Time: Towards a New Cyber-Physical Eco-Society In: M. Dimitrova (ed.) Cyber-Physical Systems for Social Applications. IGI Global

The rapid developments in online technology have provided young people with instant communication with each other and highly interactive and engaging visual game playing environments. The traditional ways of presenting museum and heritage assets no longer, therefore, hold their attention and provide them with an exciting and dynamic visitor experience. There is considerable interest in the use of augmented reality to allow visitors to explore worlds that are not immediately accessible to them and relating them to the real worlds around them. These are very effective in providing much needed contextual information, but appear rather static when compared with multi-player games environments where players interact with each other and robotic characters (non-player characters) in real time. By fusing these technologies, the authors postulate a new type of conceptually-led environment (cyber museum) that fuses real (physical), virtual worlds and cyber-social spaces into a single dynamic environment that provides a unique experience of exploring both worlds simultaneously.

Alboul, L., Beer, M., & Nisiotis, L. (2019). Robotics and Virtual Reality Gaming for Cultural Heritage Preservation. In: F. Dorban, ed. Resilience and Sustainability of Cities in Hazardous Environments, Napoli

This paper reports on the open session help during the International Conference on Resilience and Sustainability of Cities in Hazardous Environments, where the aim was to discuss how the modern technology of robotics, virtual reality, and gaming could help in preserving cultural heritage sites. There is a plethora of achievements in this technology, but how and whether their fusion can add a new dimension to the preservation of cultural heritage sites and untimely contribute to their resilience and sustainability in our rapidly changing world is open to discussions and further research incestigations.

Nisiotis, L., & Kleanthous, S. (2018, September). The development and evolution of transactive memory system over time in MUVEs. In 2018 10th Computer Science and Electronic Engineering (CEEC) (pp. 174-179). IEEE.

CSCW in education is a topic that drew a lot of attention over the years, and Multi User Virtual Environments (MUVEs) are one of the tools utilized by many educators to support their teaching objectives. MUVEs enable students to connect, immerse and interact with their peers and the environment, and synchronously engage and collaborate in learning activities. Effective communication and collaboration contributes to student learning, and the topic of Transactive Memory System (TMS) within working groups has been found to be very beneficial. TMS relates to the representation of the knowledge possessed by the members of a team that allows identifying who knows what, providing efficiency in collaboration. While the use of educational MUVEs has been thoroughly investigated in the literature, little is known about the use of such environments to support TMS and their relationship with working group dynamics. This paper presents the results of a study investigating the development and evolution of a TMS between groups within a MUVE, in order to better understand the dynamics that need to be considered when using MUVEs to support teaching and learning.

Nisiotis, L., Loizou, S. K., Beer, M., & Uruchurtu, E. (2017, June). The Development of Transactive Memory Systems in Collaborative Educational Virtual Worlds. In International Conference on Immersive Learning (pp. 35-46). Springer, Cham.

The use of 3D virtual worlds in the form of cyber campuses has been introduced in higher education over the past decade to support and enhance students’ online learning experiences. Considering that students learn in socially constructed ways and through peer collaboration, the development of Transactive Memory System – the collective awareness of the group’s specialization, coordination, and credibility – is found to be beneficial for educational purposes. This paper presents the results of a study investigating the extent to which a TMS can be developed within a 3D virtual world educational setting.

Nisiotis, L., Kleanthous Loizou, S., Beer, M., & Uruchurtu, E. (2017). The use of a cyber campus to support teaching and collaboration: An observation approach. In The Immersive Learning Research Network (iLRN) Conference 26-29 June 2017 (pp. 193-194). Verlag der Technischen Universitat Graz.

The research reported in this paper is work in progress describing the experiences of the authors while using a cyber campus to support online learning collaborative activities and investigate if a Transactive Memory System can be developed among group members, working together within a cyber campus in several pre-set tasks.

Nisiotis, L., Beer, M., & Uruchurtu, E. (2016). The use of cyber campuses to support online learning for students experiencing barriers accessing education. EAI Endorsed Transactions on Future Intelligent Educational Environments, 2(6), 1-18.

Attendance and participation in education are important for students to obtain the experiences necessary to develop their knowledge. However, there are some students who experience challenges hindering their access and participation in Higher Education. To support students, Universities utilise E-Learning. One of the many E-Learning tools is the use of virtual worlds in the form of cyber campuses. This paper investigates the extent to which cyber campuses can help to mitigate barriers and support students experiencing them. A prototype has been developed and a series of empirical studies have been performed. The results of this research suggest that a cyber campus environment can be used as an alternative learning support tool that can enhance online learning experiences, and help to mitigate some of the barriers that hinder access and participation to education. The associated limitations of this research and the future work planned out are also presented.

Nisiotis, L. (2015). A cyber campus to support students experiencing barriers accessing education (Doctoral dissertation, Sheffield Hallam University).

There are many barriers hindering access to education for some students, significantly affecting their learning experience (Cross, 1981). To mitigate the effects of such barriers, e-learning technologies are widely used. One example of this is the use of cyber campuses and their educational capabilities have been investigated thoroughly in the literature (Gregory et al., 2014). However, little is know about the extent to which cyber campuses can support students experiencing barriers hindering access to education. To investigate this, the SHU3DED (Sheffield Hallam University 3D Education) cyber campus was developed, and a mixture of quantitative and qualitative research was performed. A series of experimental studies were performed to i) evaluate the efficacy of SHU3DED to support online learning activities, ii) understand the barriers hindering access to Higher Education, and iii) ascertain the extent to which a cyber campus can alleviate some of these barriers and support students participate in online learning activities.
The findings of this research project revealed several barriers impeding access into Higher Education, together with a set of environment characteristics that contribute to the students’ online learning experience. The findings imply that a cyber campus can be a sound social space that supports participation in online learning activities for students experiencing situational and institutional barriers accessing education. The findings provide strong indications that a cyber campus has the potential mitigate some of the barriers that challenge or exclude students from accessing education, allowing them to participate in social online learning activities. As a result of this research project, a list of suggestions for the design and arrangement of cyber campuses have also been devised.

Kamvisi, M., Kleanthous, S., & Nisiotis, L. (2015). Experiences of collaborating and learning through Collab3dworld.

Collaboration is an activity that is considered important during the learning process. Good communication between group members is essential to achieve quality output. Recently, virtual worlds gained excessive popularity in educational settings and more and more lecturers are incorporating live activity or lecturing sessions in environments like Second Life (SL). In this work we are investigating how students of a conventional university perceive collaboration, communication and attending lectures in a 3D virtual environment. Initial results show high perception and students’ openness to the 3D world’s experiences.

Nisiotis, L., Beer, M., & Uruchurtu, E. (2015). The evaluation of a cyber campus to support distance learning activities. In Workshop, Short Paper and Poster Proceedings from the inaugural Immersive Learning Research Network Conference, Prague, CZ.

The research reported in this paper is work-in-progress, exploring the use of cyber campuses to support students facing barriers accessing education. A cyber campus is designed and initially evaluated, and the results are presented here.

Nisiotis, L., Beer, M., & Uruchurtu, E. (2014, July). The Evaluation of SHU3DED Cyber Campus--A Pilot Study. In 2014 IEEE 14th International Conference on Advanced Learning Technologies (pp. 688-690). IEEE.

This paper presents the preliminary findings of an empirical study that aims to evaluate the efficacy of 3D virtual worlds for synchronous distant learning activities. A pilot study was conducted to evaluate the prototype developed, the procedures and instruments of data collection, to prepare the study investigating whether virtual worlds can help students participate more effectively in learning activities. The theoretical framework is presented, together with the proposed prototype, method and results of the pilot study, its associated limitations and the future work that we intend to perform.