Virtual Reality In Higher Education: What’s the Status?

“It never replaces live practical work but it gives an additional element to being able to teach where you can get them to make a fairly significant mistake but teach around that mistake,” says[2] University of Adelaide lecturer Dr Mandi Carr. “That’s not just the person making the mistake, that’s the others watching too. You can take longer, you can make that mistake and keep making it and try to develop your learning around why. Then when you get to be able to do live animal practices your teaching becomes more efficient.”

Co-created content

According to EDUCAUSE’s 2020 Horizon Report[3], it’s become clear over the past three years that virtual reality “can be effectively deployed to support skills-based and competency pedagogies; that it can expand the range of hands-on learning experience; and that it can ‘enable high-touch, high-cost learning experiences to be scaled up.’”

Another interesting outcome is that, much like OER, virtual reality can allow students to co-create course content with instructors. At California State University, San Bernardino, students create VR content in partnership with faculty as part of the Immersive Media & Learning Lab. “The lab has recently created a certificate in extended reality production, which can include a course in entrepreneurship to help students with their first XR startup.”

Some students are even creating their own educational VR apps while at uni, leading to some exciting developments in edtech. Vipin Dhunnoo, a sustainable environments and planning and project management student at Bond University, has created an app called Aftermath which lets people experience the potential impacts of climate change through an Oculus Quest headset. “The idea is like a time machine,” he says[4], “to take you to the aftermath of climate change; for people to experience the effects we’re causing now, using our current behaviours. They would be transported into a world where sea level has taken its toll on coastal regions, and there’ll be things that were there to adapt to sea level rise but unfortunately failed, like sea walls.”

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