Fig. 9 3D virtual representation based on a bungalow plan in a 'sandpit' virtual space
The assessment was divided into five parts. Firstly there was a set of questions
to ascertain previous experience with technology (CAD software, GIS, 3D
modeling packages and virtual reality) and if applicable, how they are used to
support their professional activities.
The next three stages were testing the usability of each of the environments
in turn, through set tasks on the three 3D models built. The environments, built
in BricsCAD (CAD), GIS (ArcGIS) and OpenSim (VR), were accessed through
the first author's laptop with pocket WiFi. The order in which each subject
encountered the environments was randomized. By way of tasks, the participants
were asked to create a 3D object, alter viewing parameters on the object (pan,
rotate view), edit its geometric attributes (scaling, rotation) and change the texture
of the object. The conditions of the test stated that they were only reliant on the
printed instructions as an indication of how to perform each task.
They were timed as they performed each task (efficiency), assessed as to the
correctness—the percentage of tasks completed without error or verbal instruc-
tion—of performing that task (effectiveness) and asked about the experience of
using the environment in a post-task questionnaire (satisfaction) e.g. in terms of
learning curve, ease of doing simple tasks, visual and geographic quality, and poten-
tial for use in the workplace. The final part of the questionnaire comprised nine
additional questions which were used to investigate the participants' satisfaction on
the VE's unique capabilities (i.e. online real-time feedback and telepresence).
The questionnaires mostly comprised statements followed by a five-point Likert
scale to record the degree to which the participant agreed or disagreed with the state-
ment, from completely disagree (1) to completely agree (5), with neutral in between
(3). The statements covered the aspects of the three environments that relate to the
urban designer's or planner's professional work. That is, the ease of use, learning
curve, visual quality of the 3D objects, geographic truth, potential usefulness in a
professional context, and sense of involvement/telepresence (VE only).