Virtual Reality Classroom: Educational Virtual Learning Environment

Students: Wenhao Chen, Roy Brown, and Jeff Ruffin

Status: Current

This project presents a Virtual Reality Classroom environment that is similar to second life. The online virtual classroom is developed so that students can interact with each other and study together. Teachers can also use this mode for delivering lectures in an online virtual environment. The purpose of this project is to use a virtual reality classroom as a learning tool for education and for students that are enrolled in online classes. Our research focuses on how to create a virtual instructor and virtual students and how to integrate them into the online virtual reality classroom. Our goal is to model cooperative learning attributes like misbehavior, catching them early behavior, etc. to produce animation of a virtual environment populated with virtual avatars. The proposed system is a collection of different Virtual Classroom model environments created in 3DS Max and exported to WorldViz Vizard which constitute the base of this application. Animations and interactivity were added to the environment through a variety of techniques. For instanced Vizard scripts (in Python language) were used to animate students walking and chatting with each other. Collision detection was implemented through simple Vizard scripts to keep users from passing through buildings, other users, and other object in the environment. The aim was to create an environment that was as close to a real world environment as possible. In the VR classroom the students will be able to interact with fellow students and teachers through a server/client feature. Currently, on the server side the VR classroom environment consists of eight classrooms with two student lounges with distinct individual textures. On the client side the user will be able to log into the server as an avatar of his/her choice through a drop box provided to the user. They will also see the avatars of fellow students and teachers logged in the environment with a name label popup. In the current system people can navigate the virtual classroom as a student or as an instructor through the use of keyboard inputs. We would also like to implement alternative modes of inputs such as head mounted displays, and data gloves.


  • Created a VR environment that could be used as an actual virtual classroom where students and teachers can interact with each other.
  • Used WorldViz Vizard to create a server/client feature for interaction among fellow students and teachers.
  • The currently developed VR environment consists of 8 classrooms with 2 student lounges with distinct individual textures
  • User is able to log into the server as a client with an avatar of choice through a drop box provided to the user. Once logged in, the user enters the environment and views the environment from first person view. The user also sees the avatars of fellow students and teachers logged in the environment with a name label popup.
  • Gesture action is implemented for visual interaction as well as a chat feature for verbal interaction.
  • Integrated Microsoft XBox Kinect for movement detection of the instructor
  • Created a panel that will provide a means for user interaction and management features.
  • Session Recording as an avi file.
Fig.1: Interface with instructor integrated with Xbox kinect Fig.2: View with webcamera and motion capture through kinect for avatar
Fig. 3: Teacher Interacting with students-Earlier version Fig. 4: Interface with instructor integrated with Xbox kinect
Fig. 5: Virtual Classroom 1 Fig. 6: Student Lounge


  • Sharma, S.,  Chen,W., "Multi-user VR Classroom with 3D interaction and real-time motion detection", proceedings of IEEE the International Conference on Computational Science and Computational Intelligence (CSCI'14), Las Vegas, USA, page 187-192, Volume II, March 10-13, 2014.
  • Sharma, S., Agada, R., and Ruffin, J., "Virtual Reality Classroom as an Constructivist Approach", Proceedings of IEEE SoutheastCon 2013, Jacksonville, Florida, April 4th - 8th, 2013.
  • Jeff Ruffin Jr. and Dr. Sharad Sharma, "Virtual Reality Classroom", Oral Presentation, at the Emerging Researchers National (ERN) Conference in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), hosted by AAAS, EHR and NSF, Washington DC, February 28th - March 2nd, 2013.


Previous Work:

Modeling and VRML

The earlier version of the multi-user VR classroom was built on top of ABNet. The first stage involved modeling the building and classrooms using 3ds Max and Form Z software’s.The second stage in the creation of the application involves converting the 3Ds max file to VRML (Virtual Reality Modeling Language) file. The 3D model of the building modeled in 3D Max was exported to a VRML file.

View of virtual classroom in ABNet. Chat interface implemented using XML messages

The above figure shows our developed multi-user classroom environment having the chat functionality implemented using ABNet. We explored VRMLWorld.net that is an X3D/VRML chat gateway powered by ABNet. The client side of ABNet uses Javascript on an HTML page to turn a single-user VRML (Virtual Reality Modeling Language) world into a Multi-user Virtual World environment. 3D Avatars can interact and use shared events to provide a virtual experience. This interface allowed addressing complex tasks by connecting the VRML web browser plug-in with a Java applet within the same web page.

Class room view in VRML class room view in VRML


Teacher student interaction view of teacher in the online environment