This paper discusses the current research and understanding of the effects of audio environments on learning, with a particular focus on the affordances of the effects in computer-generated, 3D virtual environments and virtual worlds. Both sound and music have different effects on different people, and this has been one of the confounding issues in the search for a generalizable theory of the effects of audio environments on learning. This in turn has meant that the affordances of both soundscapes and musicscapes in education remain under-researched, particularly in multi-media environments such as virtual worlds. Using evidence from student experiences when studying an online Master’s programme that runs entirely in a virtual world, synthesized with research in the subject areas of virtual learning, music and sound, we argue for a change in approach; that, in the case of 3D online virtual worlds and similar environments, the personal control that users have over the environment in which they learn presents opportunities for choice of their own, personal soundscapes and musicscapes to enhance individual learning experiences. This also presents a fertile ground for research into immersion, engagement, simulation and virtual environments as facilitators of learning when utilising both ambient and contextual sound with music, or alone. We therefore propose research in this field.
Falconer, L., & Green, J. (2015). Exploring the learning potential of acoustic design in 3D virtual environments. Literacy Information and Computer Education Journal, 6(1), 1273-1276