Virtual Reality has always been of interest to higher education. But no longer are they just watching from the sidelines to learn about the technology. University faculty and students are actively building, deploying, and promoting their VR work like never before.
Below, we’ll delve into three reasons for the explosive growth of Virtual Reality in education over the last year. For each reason, we’ll provide you examples of colleges actively utilizing InstaVR to achieve these goals.
If you’re an educator or student thinking of building VR, now is the time. Cameras like the Insta360 One X and headsets like the Oculus Go have made VR affordable/easy to use, while InstaVR has made editing and publishing VR accessible to non-technical people.
1. VR Provides Immersive, Interactive Experiences that are Better for Information Presentation and Retention
Academia is continually evolving thanks to technology. VR is not just a fad or only being used for one-off projects. It’s actively being integrated into curriculum by faculty specifically because it is a better delivery mechanism for learning.
First off, it’s immersive. It can transport students to a first-person view unlike any other technology, while engaging two major senses at once — sight and sound. Specific advances in audio & video equipment, particularly higher resolution stereoscopic cameras and spatial audio, make new VR experiences more immersive than ever.
InstaVR Academic users leveraging the immersive properties of VR range from Stanford University School of Medicine training new doctors to avoid distractions to University of Arkansas – Pulaski Tech helping students to relax in front of classrooms while giving speeches to Emporia State University students using InstaVR apps to view simulated crime scenes that were staged at an FBI office hundreds of miles away.
Virtual Reality also, when built properly, will be interactive. Interactivity leads to a more memorable education experience. VR app users can choose between navigation links or interact with Hotspots in a scene to show more information through image, video or audio. For a great use of Hotspots, check out Emporia State University’s VR presentation on their May Massee Collection — https://www.emporia.edu/libsv/archives/collections/may-massee-collection.html
2. VR is Location Independent
As college campuses become global, the location independence of VR becomes more prominent. All a user needs to access Virtual Reality is a headset like the Samsung Gear VR or Oculus Go — or really even just an iOS or Android smartphone and a Google Cardboard. As powerful VR headset prices have dropped, including the Oculus Go costing a pretty reasonable $200, we hear more universities buying fleets of them to use in classrooms or labs.
Universities are now weaving VR into their global classroom curriculum. That’s exactly what University of the West of Scotland is planning to do with InstaVR as part of their “Accelerated and Immersive Education” initiative. Students throughout the world, as far away as Asia and Australia, will have access to the same interactive VR learning materials as the students in Scotland.
Books will always be an integral part of university learning. But with geographically disperse, online-powered classrooms, the benefits of virtual reality are undeniable and now easier than ever to distribute. (see the Oculus Go “Release Channels” feature for a great new way to distribute VR apps)
3. VR Can Be Built by Students, Helping Them in Future Careers
VR is expected to be a $33 Billion industry by 2024. Many real world jobs — from employee training to entertainment to research — are actively already incorporating Virtual Reality technology into their day-to-day work.
So it’s no surprise that universities are incorporating VR curriculum that directly prepares students for these new VR-infused workplaces. University of South Wales, for instance, is using InstaVR to build projects for counter terrorism, crime scene investigation, and to prevent child exploitation. All of these are high stakes jobs where early immersive training can be valuable.
Or look at Emporia State University, which incorporated InstaVR into business students’ capstone projects. They worked with local businesses and non-profits to promote them using unique virtual reality applications. These students are better prepared for jobs in marketing, promotions, visual arts, and more where VR is becoming integral.
Or Texas State University, which has used InstaVR to build interactive trainings for the state government’s ambulance buses.
If you or your school is using InstaVR for interesting projects, let us know. Share your VR success stories with us on Twitter and we’d be happy to promote your work and help educate others on how VR is being used in (and out) of the classroom!