Piloting mixed reality in ICT networking to visualize complex theoretical multi-step problems

This paper presents insights from the implementation of a mixed reality intervention using 3d printed physical objects and a mobile augmented reality application in an ICT networking classroom. The intervention aims to assist student understanding of complex theoretical multi-step problems without a corresponding real world physical analog model. This is important because these concepts are difficult to conceptualise without a corresponding mental model. The simulation works by using physical models to represent networking equipment and allows learners to build a network that can then be simulated using a mobile app to observe underlying packet traversal and routing theory between the different devices as data travels from the source to the destination. Outcomes from usability testing show great student interest in the intervention and a feeling that it helped with clarity, but also demonstrated the need to scaffold the use of the intervention for students rather than providing a freeform experience in the classroom.