Abstract

Researchers and educators have observed great potential in virtual reality (VR) technology as an educational tool due to its ability to engage and spark interest in students, thus providing them with a deeper form of knowledge about a subject. The focus of this project is to develop an interactive VR educational module, Laser Diode Characteristics and Coupling to Fibers, to integrate into a fiber optics laboratory course. The developed module features a virtual laboratory populated with realistic models of optical devices in which students can set up and perform an optical experiment dealing with laser diode characteristics and fiber coupling. The module contains three increasingly complex levels for students to navigate through, with a short built-in quiz after each level to measure the student’s understanding of the subject. Seventeen undergraduate students learned fiber coupling concepts using the designed computer simulation in a non-immersive desktop virtual environment (VE) condition. The analysis of students’ responses on the updated pre- and post tests show statistically significant improvement of the scores for the post-test as compared to the pre-test. In addition, the students’ survey responses suggest that they found the module very useful and engaging. The conducted study clearly demonstrated the feasibility of the proposed instructional technology for engineering education, where both the model of instruction and the enabling technology are equally important, in providing a better learning environment to improve students’ conceptual understanding as compared to other instructional approaches.

© 2013 OSA, SPIE, IEEE, ICO

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