Real Environment Versus VIE

To argue, the difference between a Real Environment (RE) and a Virtual Environment without entering a philosophical discussion is that a RE is simply a physical, palpable environment that exists in the real world. In contrast, a virtual world is a simulated digital environment that exists in a computer or other electronic media.

In a study published in the Journal of British Surgery (Graafland et al., 2012), the authors indicate that one of the main advantages of VIEs over REs is providing a safe and controlled environment for medical training and practice. Contrary to REs, VIEs can replicate complex and high-risk scenarios in real environments and allow repeated practice without endangering real patients. In addition, VIEs can provide immediate feedback to enhance skill acquisition, which can improve learning outcomes.

Another example of the difference between a RE and a VIE can be seen in architecture and urban planning. According to a study published by (Liu, 2020), VIEs such as virtual reality can provide architects and planners with a powerful tool for simulating and evaluating the impact of design decisions in complex urban environments. VIEs can enable planners to explore different scenarios and test the effects of different design options in a safe and controlled manner.

However, VIEs also have limitations that must be taken into account. One major limitation is that the level of immersion and realism provided by VIEs may need to be increased to capture the complexity and nuances of real-world environments. In addition, VIEs may not accurately reflect the experience of users in the real world, which can limit the ability to draw accurate conclusions and make informed decisions. The lack of fidelity can reduce the user's sense of presence and engagement. Fidelity refers to the degree of similarity between the VIE and the real world, and low fidelity can limit the effectiveness of training and education. In addition, some users may experience discomfort or motion sickness in VIEs, which can further reduce their effectiveness (McMahan et al., 2012).

Another area for improvement of VIEs is the potential for technical challenges that can limit the effectiveness and reliability of the simulation. VIEs are complex digital systems that require specialized software, hardware, and technical expertise to design, build, and operate.

While VIEs offer many advantages over REs in certain contexts, their limitations must also be considered.


Graafland, M., Schraagen, J. M., & Schijven, M. P. (2012). Systematic review of serious games for medical education and surgical skills training. Journal of British Surgery, 99(10), 1322-1330.

Liu, X. (2020). Three-dimensional visualized urban landscape planning and design based on virtual reality technology. IEEE access, 8, 149510-149521.

McMahan, R. P., Bowman, D. A., Zielinski, D. J., & Brady, R. B. (2012). Evaluating display fidelity and interaction fidelity in a virtual reality game. IEEE transactions on visualization and computer graphics, 18(4), 626-633.

Class Activities: RE Versus VIE

Each group will embark on a significant exploration of Real Environments (REs) and Virtual Immersive Environments (VIEs). Your first task is to conduct a comprehensive literature review on using REs and VIEs in an assigned field like remote learning or virtual laboratories. Your focus should be on research studies that provide a comparative view of both environments, considering benefits, limitations, user experiences, and learning outcomes.

Simultaneously, select or construct two case studies from your field, one illustrating using an RE and the other a VIE. Your analysis should cover design, implementation, user engagement, learning outcomes, and challenges encountered. Then, compile your findings from the literature review and case study analysis into a detailed comparative report. Your report should highlight the advantages and drawbacks of using REs and VIEs in your field, suggesting potential solutions or strategies to overcome any limitations identified with VIEs.

Once your report is ready, prepare a presentation for the rest of the class, explaining your findings, comparative analysis, and proposed solutions. Be ready to engage in a Q&A session following your presentation to clarify any queries and to encourage an open exchange of ideas. Finally, after all presentations, each group will provide a peer review of another team's project. Highlight the strengths, suggest areas for improvement, and offer additional insights or perspectives. Remember, this exercise aims to deepen your understanding of REs and VIEs and improve your research, critical thinking, and communication skills.

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