A multi-modal 3D learning environment
(modularizing computer-assisted learning)

Marc Breisinger, Tobias Höllerer, James K. Ford, Doug Folsom

Figure 1. A student using the LEMMA
learning environment on the FogScreen


We present LEMMA, a Learning Environment with Multi-Media Augmentations. The goal of our project is to develop and evolve new techniques for producing tutorials for general learning applications. We introduce an authoring system that enables educators to develop tutorials on topics in various domains, without the necessity to program or to be familiar with low-level representation schemes. LEMMA helps educators develop successful multimedia tutorials by enabling them to focus on the content and by providing a direct high-level interface to structured hypermedia creation. These multimedia tutorials can employ a variety of modalities (visual, audio, and tactile interaction), enabling the learner to better understand, memorize, and "grasp" the content.  

This page gives a brief overview about the ideas behind LEMMA, its mechanisms and features, and the results from a first user study, for which we applied LEMMA in actual undergraduate physics education. Furthermore, it points you to additional resources related to the project, such as screen shots, photographs, and  videos.


The LEMMA system consists of two parts: an authoring system (see Fig.2) that enables teachers to prepare course topics as highly interactive hypermedia presentations, and an interactive learning environment that enables students to learn the prepared material at their own pace through an interface that offers multiple modalities, including spoken and written text and 2D and 3D imagery. The system, which can be presented on conventional desktop computers (see Fig. 3+4) or 3D immersive display environments (see Fig. 1), supports a student´s learning experience with tangible 3D interaction and easy-to-use navigation capabilities.

Requirements analysis

The student will
  • read AND hear the lecturing, instructions, questions and feedback
  • see visualizations (if applicable) in 3D (Stereo) "2⅔D" (correct 3D perspective through head tracking) or 2 ½ D (3D graphics on 2D screen);example: in a physics tutorial we can have solid objects and representations of forces as vectors etc.
  • be able to interact with parts of the system, encouraging experimentation and promoting understanding. This is done mainly via hand-held input devices (dataglove, wand)
  • respond to inquiries by the system for the purpose of training, feedback/hints and evaluation
  • navigate linearly through a tutorial, following natural sequential flow of information (backward and forward)
  • navigate non-linearly through the tutorial, referring to recent and related content, using hyperlinks, bookmarks, etc.

The teacher will:

  • design multimedia tutorials, assisted by a multimedia authoring environment, In particular, the system provides functionality for
    • script structuring
    • text & voice synchronization
    • turorial flow control (pause, goto, wait for xy etc.)
    • visualiziation / illustration scheduling
    • various tools for visualiziation manipulation (highlighting, transparency etc.)
  • therefore be able to iterate and evolve the tutorial
Authoring Environment
One-Monitor-Desktop Configuration
Two-Monitor-Desktop Configuration
Figure 2: Authoring Environment
Figure 3: One-Monitor-Desktop
Figure 4: Two-Monitor-Desktop

Gravity working on a pendulum
Multiple choice based inquiry
Screenshot from the Precession tutorial
Figure5: Gravity
working on a pendulum
Figure 6: System Inquiry
Figure 7: Precession tutorial

User Study

Our first major evaluation of the system and the implemented concepts was a user study conducted with an undergraduate physics course. Fifteen students from a UCSB College of Creative Studies Physics course (UCSB Physics CS 32) participated in the study. The participants were between 18 to 19 years old, 13 males and 2 females. The content of the physics tutorial was mainly designed and written by the physics lecturer who presented the course. Based on initial formative user studies, the lecturer and software designers structured the tutorial into a suitable form. Nine students used LEMMA to learn one lecture's worth of the course material (including as topics: angular momentum, torque and precession) without having been introduced to it in class. They filled in a pre-tutorial questionnaire to assess their background and familiarity with VR, and then went through a self explanatory tutorial of the system's functionality (Ø 19 min), followed by the physics tutorial itself (Ø 21 min), concluded by self guided exploration (Ø 6 min). After their experience with the system, they took a written test to verify the knowledge gained through the tutorial, and then filled a 20-item questionnaire evaluating their experience with the system. Sessions took a total of one to two hours. The other six students, serving as the control group, visited the class lecture on the same material. They also were quizzed on gained knowledge afterwards. Here are the results on performance regarding the physics test (Fig. 8) and the answers to the questionaire (Fig. 9)

LEMMA on the FogScreen
Figure 8: Comparison of performance between students
taught by LEMMA und classical lecture on the same test.

LEMMA on the FogScreen
Figure 9: Questionnaire results.


Quicktime, 640x480, 61 MB
DivX AVI, 640x480, 16 MB

Related pages

LEMMA project page at the Ludwig-Maximilian-University Munich, Germany