and engagement in a 3D environment—
Teaching through the Art of Memory
Educators have recently shown an increased interest
in computer gaming technologies, e.g., (Prensky, 2001). Games are known
to be engaging, and an increasing number of today's youth have experience
with and an interest in computer game playing. Because of the importance
of motivation and engagement for learning, it is felt that the introduction
of gaming elements into an educational context can be beneficial. Our
work extends these efforts by using design ideas from the technique of
Art of Memory to further increase the level of engagement with the educational
The Art of Memory is a memorization-aiding technique
with ancient roots (Yates 1966, 1969a, 1969b). Using the technique involves
using imaginary or physical places to act as scaffolding for remembering
information. Two central principles of the Art of Memory are visualization
and association, i.e., information is associated with visualized locations
and artefacts within those locations. Historically, the locations and
artefacts were chosen to maximize the practitioner's engagement in the
subject. As a result, mental images of extreme or even surrealistic content
were often used and we try to reflect this in the design of our 3D environments.
A test case, teaching filosophy in a virtual
In the first setting we present four philosophers (Locke, Berkeley, Hume
and Kant) using selected texts along with pictures, paintings and other
artefacts (figure 1).
The rooms are located in a spatial structure that is intended
as an aid to memory. The objects have, according to the art of memory,
striking appearances and gives depth and atmosphere to the setting. (figure
2). Special care has been taken to make it inviting and pleasing to the
According to writings on the Art of Memory, many people up until the late
renaissance used this technique for memorising impressive amounts of information.
We find it an interesting approach towards using digital environments
in education and it can be an enabling factor in creating engaging experiences
and positive attitudes. By exploring these kinds of 3D learning environments
with educational content we build on the time honored and proven tradition
of using incorporeal places for harboring information.
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Prensky, M. (2001) Digital Game-Based Learning, McGraw-Hill, 2001.
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in VR education. To appear in Computers and Graphics.
Yates, F. (1966) The Art of Memory. University of Chicago Press.
Yates, F. (1969a) Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Trad. Univ. of Chicago
Yates, F. (1969b) Theatre of the World. University of Chicago Press.
CID 1996-2000 | About this website | firstname.lastname@example.org
Marcus Tullius Cicero (102 - 43 B.C.).
Figure 1. A philosopher room with images, objects
Figure 2. Striking objects.
A French cabinet of curiosities from the 16th century.