Location

West Lafayette, Indiana

Abstract

Classes in introductory programming often focus on solving small, succinct problems that can typically be completed in few lines of source code. While useful for learning the basics of algorithm implementation and language syntax, this method suggests to learners that all programming problems exist in isolation and are self-contained. In contrast, most programming assignments faced by fresh graduates are large in scope and require use of many pre-built libraries and extensions. As a result, students are not entirely prepared to write code that will function within a larger system. To address this problem, an introductory C programming course at Valparaiso University has explored the use of virtual reality as a means to motivate students to have fun while practicing coding skills and showcase the power of working within constraints of a complex system. Students are provided a brief introduction to the OpenGL 3D graphics framework and then asked to design a small, optionally animated, scene using their current knowledge of the C programming language. Later in the semester, these same students are brought into a VisCube Virtual Reality system to experience their scenes in a fully immersive environment. The VisCube uses eight rendering paths and stereo displays to generate a 3D scene in a 10’x8’x6’ cube. This exercise serves to show students that even a simple scene can then easily expanded to display in a virtual reality environment. We discuss the project assignment and student impacts using assessment and provide a brief discussion of how this can be adapted to facilities with other viualization capabilities.

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Recruiting VR Troopers: Bringing Introductory Programming Projects to Life in Virtual Reality

West Lafayette, Indiana

Classes in introductory programming often focus on solving small, succinct problems that can typically be completed in few lines of source code. While useful for learning the basics of algorithm implementation and language syntax, this method suggests to learners that all programming problems exist in isolation and are self-contained. In contrast, most programming assignments faced by fresh graduates are large in scope and require use of many pre-built libraries and extensions. As a result, students are not entirely prepared to write code that will function within a larger system. To address this problem, an introductory C programming course at Valparaiso University has explored the use of virtual reality as a means to motivate students to have fun while practicing coding skills and showcase the power of working within constraints of a complex system. Students are provided a brief introduction to the OpenGL 3D graphics framework and then asked to design a small, optionally animated, scene using their current knowledge of the C programming language. Later in the semester, these same students are brought into a VisCube Virtual Reality system to experience their scenes in a fully immersive environment. The VisCube uses eight rendering paths and stereo displays to generate a 3D scene in a 10’x8’x6’ cube. This exercise serves to show students that even a simple scene can then easily expanded to display in a virtual reality environment. We discuss the project assignment and student impacts using assessment and provide a brief discussion of how this can be adapted to facilities with other viualization capabilities.