You are here:

Who needs experts? Students designing a Synthetic Learning Environment of the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

, , , , Future University Hakodate, Japan

EdMedia + Innovate Learning, in Washington, DC ISBN 978-1-939797-29-2 Publisher: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), Waynesville, NC


The paper is a description of the continuing research into the efficacy of a Synthetic Learning Environment (SLE) to support more engaged academic practice and transformative learning in Higher Education. Students have designed, programmed and created an immersive 3D virtual Fukushima nuclear power plant. The environment replicates the real-world Fukushima reactors just prior to the disaster of March 2011, and is viewable using the Oculus Rift Head Mounted Display (HMD). It is anticipated that such user-accessible simulations with young students and elder citizens controlling a virtual robot will create an awareness and understanding of disaster recovery, and not simply rely upon retrospective information from unprepared experts. The primary research aim is to capture data of cognitive processes for later analysis. The pedagogic rationale is to amalgamate the Synthetic Learning Environment for real-world collaborations such as simulating robot navigation within restricted areas.


Vallance, M., Kurashige, Y., Sasaki, T. & Magaki, T. (2017). Who needs experts? Students designing a Synthetic Learning Environment of the Fukushima nuclear power plant. In J. Johnston (Ed.), Proceedings of EdMedia 2017 (pp. 1223-1228). Washington, DC: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE). Retrieved February 23, 2019 from .

View References & Citations Map


  1. Canon-Bowers, J.A. & Bowers, C.A. (2008). Synthetic Learning Environments. In Spector, J.M., Merrill, D.M., van Merrienboer, J. & Drsicoll, M.P. (Eds.), Handbook of Research on Educational Communications and Technology: Third Edition. New York, USA: Routledge
  2. Dalgarno, B., Hedberg, J. & Harper, B. (2002). The contribution of 3D environments to conceptual understanding. In O.J. McKerrow (Eds.), Winds of Change in the Sea of Learning: Proceedings of the 19th Annual Conference of the Australasian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education Vol 1 (pp. 149158).
  3. Koenig, A., Iseli, M., Wainess, R. & Lee, J.J. (2013). Assessment Methodology for Computer-Based Instructional Simulations. MILITARY MEDICINE, Vol. 178, October Supplement 2013.
  4. Kolb, D.A. (1984). Experiential learning: experience as the source of learning and development. Prentice-Hall: Englewood Cliffs, N.J.
  5. Naamani, C. & Vallance, M. (2013). Avatars, LEGO Robots and Immersive Learning: a case study exploring the development of learners’ programming and cognitive skills using LEGO robots in an international collaborative learning environment. Advancing Education Journal, NAACE, Autumn 2013.
  6. OECD (2016). Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). Available from Accessed December 13, 2016.
  7. Papert, S. & Harel, I. (1993). Constructionism. USA: Ablex publishing.
  8. Piaget, J. (1972). Intellectual evolution from adolescence to adult. Human Development, 15, 1-12.
  9. Vallance, M., Naamani, C., Thomas, M. & Thomas, J. (2013). Applied Information Science Research in a Virtual World Simulation to Support Robot Mediated Interaction Following the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster. Communications in Information Science and Management Engineering (CISME). Vol. 3 Issue 5, pp. 222-232.
  10. Vallance, M., Martin, S. & Naamani, C. (2015). A situation that we had never imagined: post-Fukushima virtual collaborations for determining robot task metrics. International Journal of Learning Technology, Vol. 10, No. 1, pp.30–49.
  11. Vallance, M. (2016). Researching Declarative, Procedural, and Meta-Cognitive Knowledge through Active Learning in Disaster-Themed 3D Virtual Worlds. International Journal on Innovations in Online Education, Volume 1, Issue 1 2016.
  12. Vallance, M. & Towndrow, P.A. (2016). Pedagogic transformation, student-directed design and computational thinking. Pedagogies: An International Journal. Volume 11, Number 3, Jul-Sep 2016. Pp. 218-234.

These references have been extracted automatically and may have some errors. If you see a mistake in the references above, please contact