Edith Cowan University, Western Australia in association with Khon Kaen University, Thailand and Bansomdejchaopraya Rajabhat University, Thailand.
The perspective taken in this paper is that technology is a powerful tool for aiding in university instruction but not as an end in itself. Therefore, institutions can use it to empower and engage students for intellectual, emotional, social and economic development. The paper presents the results of a study on the impact of simulations and virtual reality on university students‘ achievement and their attitude. These are then discussed in the context of specific media characteristics. The researcher used a mixed method design and examined hypotheses for effect as well as analysed qualitative data for stated assumptions. The underlying theory for the study is that simulations and virtual reality may bring teaching to life by creating an imaginary life experiential learning. Characteristically, these types of media do not only have graphics, sound, video, text, and special effects that enhance the overall appeal of teaching, they also allow students to vicariously experience real life situations. Students can experience past events, current trends, and future possibilities and also interact with each other. Through interactive participation by the students, multimedia software permitted logical thinking, problem solving, hypothesis testing, inference and many activities of higher order thinking. Computer simulations presented potential to create complex and challenging student activities. Conversely, virtual reality has the potential to transport the minds of students into a given set of experiences. Students felt that they were actually in the experience they were watching on the screen. Virtual reality experience resulted in learning that connects the student with their emotions, cognitive skills, and physical sensations. Such experience promoted memory of content learned. This study sought to investigate the impact of multimedia on developing and achieving research and assessment skills and attitude of developmental psychology students at the University of Botswana. Building on theory, a virtual psychology lab was created to train students to identify human development problems and learn strategies for problem solving. Students were later examined for improved learning, acquisition of skills, knowledge and attitude. The results show that there are numerous benefits for engaging multimedia in teaching. The paper concludes that there is a need for changing teaching methods to empower students by embracing technology.