I speak with many educators who are interested to learn more about VR and how it may begin to impact teaching and learning. It is difficult to fully understand the impact VR will have on education without having hands on experience with either the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift. Although I don’t think that these consumer devices will make their way into any great number of classrooms, I do think they provide an idea of where the technology is heading. However, gaining access to these set-ups is not easy or cheap. An HTC Vive setup will easily cost you something north of 1500USD. The head mounted display (HMD) alone is $700 and then you need to factor in the cost of upgrading your PC or even buying/building a completely new one.
As it currently stands, schools will not be using this level of technology. The price point is just too much of a stretch for the vast majority of schools and the impact on learning is unclear. Thanks to the exponential nature of digital technology development, we can be sure that access to quality VR experiences is not too far off.
The most common way educators experience VR is through a mobile phone viewer. The crudest example of this is Google Cardboard and at the other end of the spectrum is the Samsung Gear VR. What’s nice about these headsets is that they are low cost. However, using a phone and mobile viewer often don’t do VR justice. It’s common to hear people who have only experienced VR like this complain about motion sickness or claim it will be a passing fad, a gimmick. If the development stopped right now, I would agree with them, but it is important for educators to imagine what is possible in the future. As a guide, it’s helpful to remember that the first iPhone was released less than 10 years ago.
Google Daydream will do a lot for mobile VR and hopefully provide educators who can’t access the high end VR devices a chance to experience VR at its best.
If you’re interested in finding out more about VR and what it may mean for education, we’ve compiled a list of links that somebody new to the space may find interesting and informative.
It’s common to hear the claim that there are no VR experts. If that is even only partly true, we can be sure that there are no experts in VR Education. Let’s work together to understand this exciting frontier for the benefit of our future students.
An interesting history of VR: http://www.vrs.org.uk/virtual-reality/history.html
Google Expeditions https://www.google.com/edu/expeditions/
Discovery VR http://www.discoveryvr.com/
Immersive VR Education http://immersivevreducation.com/
Tech Crunch - When Virtual Reality Meets Education https://techcrunch.com/2016/01/23/when-virtual-reality-meets-education/no
Eon Reality http://www.eonreality.com/solutions/education/
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