A lot of information that we use in everyday life is represented in the form of two-dimensional models of three-dimensional reality. Those models are useful which help us to understand the real world phenomena and create such a mental representation, i.e. “the image in our mind”, which is close to reality and contains reasonable degree of details which can be processed easily by the recipient. In the applied areas, important models representing the spatial information are maps, either in its traditional paper form or on a display of specific electronic device, and also as a virtual environment. The development of these models and the evaluation of their applicability is the research subject for experts from various disciplines using different methods as well as different theoretical concepts and background.
The project is based on interdisciplinary communication and collaboration of cartographers, psychologists, pedagogues and IT experts. The project allows us to find answers to questions about how the different characteristics of models and different user interfaces influence the effectiveness of “communicating information” — e.g. the degree of understanding, the effectiveness of learning and follow-up decisions when solving experimental tasks. The proposed research design is focused on the research of basal cognitive processes and it also tends to conduct behavioral research on more complex levels in the perspective of pedagogical sciences. On the one hand, there will be compared alternative techniques of cartographic visualization in different user interfaces (UI) and on the other hand there will be examined the behavior of individuals and the effectiveness of learning in cooperative learning virtual environments (CLVEs). Research is hierarchically structured:
a) comparison of variants of cartographic visualization methods
b) comparison of UI variants
c) comparison of UI in the context of cooperative learning
The secondary objective of the project is to develop a mixed-methods research design that combines the advantages of both qualitative and quantitative methods. Thanks to cutting-edge instrumentation (eg. Large-format 3D projection, Motion Capture System, Eye-tracking systems compatible with three-dimensional (3D) projection and integrated into virtual reality systems) and original software platforms VRECKO and Hypothesis, which are provided by laboratories Hume lab at FF MU and HCI lab at FI MU, and with the use of experimental or quasi-experimental methods, within this interdisciplinary collaboration can be the defined research questions effectively tackled.