Assessing mobile mixed reality affordances as a comparative visualization pedagogy for design communication

Keywords: mixed reality, mobile learning, augmented reality, virtual reality, design communication


Spatial visualisation skills and interpretation are critical in the design professions but are difficult for novice designers. There is growing evidence that mixed reality visualisation improves learner outcomes, but often these studies are focused on a single media representation and not on a comparison between media and the underpinning learning outcomes. Results from recent studies highlight the use of comparative visualisation pedagogy in design through learner reflective blogs and pilot studies with experts, but these studies are limited by expense and designs familiar to the learner. With increasing interest in mobile pedagogy, more assessment is required in understanding learner interpretation of comparative mobile mixed reality pedagogy. The aim of this study is to do this by evaluating insights from a first-year architectural design classroom through studying the impact and use of a range of mobile comparative visualisation technologies. Using a design-based research methodology and a usability framework for accessing comparative visualisation, this paper will study the complexities of spatial design in the built environment. Outcomes from the study highlight the positives of the approach but also the improvements required in the delivery of the visualisations to improve on the visibility and visual errors caused by the lack of mobile processing.

Published: 27 November 2018

This paper is part of the Special Collection Mobile Mixed Reality Enhanced Learning, edited by Thom Cochrane, Fiona Smart, Helen Farley and Vickel Narayan. More papers from this collection can be found here

Citation: Research in Learning Technology 2018, 26: 2128 -


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Author Biographies

James Birt, Bond University
Multi-dimensional defines my twenty-year academic career as an Associate Professor of Information and Computing Sciences where I coordinate the Mixed Reality Research Lab ( My research spans computer science and visual arts, with an emphasis on applied design and development of interactive mixed reality (virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), 3d printing, mobile) experiences and visualisations assisting communication, learning, skills acquisition and knowledge discovery. I have published in top quality journals/conferences and received multiple national and institutional grants. I also take an active role in supporting learners and peers through mentorship, presentations and expert judging.
Michael Cowling, CQUniversity
Dr Michael A. Cowling is a technology communicator with a keen interest in educational technology, computer science education and digital ubiquity and acceptance. He is currently a Senior Lecturer in Educational Technology at CQUniversity Australia, where he is the founder of The CREATE Lab, which focuses on collaborative research and education around technology and education (, and is a co-founder of The Mixed Reality Research Lab ( in collaboration with Bond University. In 2016, Dr Cowling was the recipient of an Australian Government Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning; in 2018 he was appointed an Advance Queensland Community Digital Champion; and he is a current partner in an Australian Office for Learning & Teaching Innovation & Development grant. As a core tenant of his work, Dr Cowling lives by the mantra “pedagogy before technology”, and believes that all technology needs to maintain the underlying purpose of enriching our lives.
How to Cite
Birt J., & Cowling M. (2018). Assessing mobile mixed reality affordances as a comparative visualization pedagogy for design communication. Research in Learning Technology, 26.
Mobile Mixed Reality - Themed Collection