Abstract: Constant evolution of game engines and the growing maturity of Game Based Learning have broadened the benefits of virtual worlds and augmented the value of exploratory and experiential learning, in the educational process. Virtual worlds act as a ludic environment for students, create new opportunities and offer alternatives to traditional, literal study. They introduce interactivity and playfulness in the learning process which acts as an essential trigger for students. According to Discovery Learning, a technique based on constructivism, the unconstrained exploration and navigation within virtual worlds is fundamental for the learning process.
In this context, we developed an interactive educational game, henceforth ThimelEdu, using the Unity game engine, the Blender 3D creation suite and the IOLAOS Cloud Ecosystem. ThimelEdu attempts to create a pragmatic virtual word to act as a complementary tool to ancient theatre studies. In this pursuit, 3D artefacts that represent constructional components of an ancient theatre, were implemented based on bibliographic references, reconstructing a virtual historical site. The 3D artefacts are interactive and incorporate information that can be retrieved by learners as part of an explorative learning experience. Thus, knowledge is concealed within the interactive artefacts of the virtual world and can be discovered during the virtual expedition. The learning process is established and assessed through online interactive quizzes and questionnaires while exploring the ThimelEdu’s virtual word. Most importantly, learners can perform knowledge assessment based on virtual artefacts interaction, in-game quizzes and questionnaires without the intervention of teachers. Game personalization is achieved through the IOALOS’s user profiling module that automatically customizes game during game login according to player’s profile. Furthermore, ThimelEdu provides ad-hoc real time game customization for better game experience, enhanced educational results and improved playfulness.