What is Virtual Reality?

Virtual reality (VR) refers to computer-generated environments that simulate the physical presence of people and/or objects and realistic sensory experiences. VR has also spurred the evolution of 3D video technology, which uses dual imagery so that objects on the screen appear three dimensional and replicate real-world objects and places. At a basic level, this technology takes the form of 3D images that users interact with and control via mouse and keyboard. More sophisticated applications of virtual reality allow users to more authentically feel the objects in these displays through gesture-based and haptic devices, which provide tactile information through force feedback. Initially, VR was used for military training, but as costs for the devices have steadily decreased, education institutions have begun leveraging the technology to foster immersive learning experiences. Thanks to advances in graphics hardware, CAD software, and 3D displays, virtual reality is becoming more mainstream, especially in the realm of video games. In March 2016, Oculus VR began selling Oculus Rift, a head-mounted display for gameplay to make the game environments and actions more lifelike, on the consumer market. As both games and natural user interfaces are finding applications in classrooms, the addition of virtual reality makes learning simulations more authentic for students.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • Virtual reality will be highly relevant to certain fields such as Medicine, Architecture, and others where it is important to simulate a real - life experience. It will also be very useful tool to teach empathy and such soft skills. - nacha_sockalingam nacha_sockalingam Aug 9, 2016 - paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Oct 5, 2016
  • Just seen this from microsoft - looks like there will be a huge push from them next year - dkernohan dkernohan Aug 17, 2016 Microsoft HoloLens
  • Virtual reality can be used as a time machine , a way to explore places that are difficult to get to or are dangerous, present a sense of proportion and scale. VR also offers new forms of storytelling and communication. (- jantonio jantonio Aug 17, 2016) - matthew.worwood matthew.worwood Sep 25, 2016 - paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Oct 5, 2016
  • Anything learning environment can be imagined that can be created -- and the headsets will not be isolating, as individuals can co-exist in virtual space together - deone.zell deone.zell Sep 4, 2016 I'd also suspect the attached cable will be short lived - matthew.worwood matthew.worwood Sep 25, 2016
  • Virtual worlds are especially useful in health professions education. - deborah.cooke deborah.cooke Sep 6, 2016 I was at a conference and tried out a VR Emergency room to train nurses. - lkoster lkoster Sep 30, 2016
  • VR offers us the opportunity to create virtual spaces which we can them populate with virtual creations e.g. The creation of a virtual gallery which contains all of the works of art to be studied in a particular semester would be an interesting and innovative way to present learning an teaching materials on our fine art degree. Would it make a positive difference to the learning outcomes? I guess we will have to try it and find out. - damian.mcdonald damian.mcdonald Sep 22, 2016
  • As hardware gets cheaper and software gets simpler, Virtual Reality will give universities the power to create applications according to their own needs. Once VR gets available to other areas not directly related with software and video games, new applications and approaches will emerge, taking this amazing technology towards it's full, transversal potential. - fledezma fledezma Sep 22, 2016
  • Completely agree with everything above. I think VR will completely change how students interact with information and experience schooling no matter their domain. While I recognize this isn't a true 3D experience, I've been using a 360 camera to capture interviews, which I plan to use this semester using Google Cardboard, in order to show students how to setup a basic interview - I'm trying to use the technology so that they can experience the production in a new way. Hopefully, soon I won't need to capture my own content, as VR will allow them to visit more elaborate productions (perhaps Hollywood sets), experiencing them as if they were really present in the moment and better appreciating the thinking that takes place behind the camera. - matthew.worwood matthew.worwood Sep 25, 2016 - paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Oct 5, 2016
  • VR and, more importantly, 360° video, will be incredibly relevant to study abroad programs. Many programs are limited by the number of students that can participate - whether it is from the side of the students' own financial capabilities or from the design of the program. Immersive VR content will be used to allow students to not only have a sense of place but feel like they can participate in the exploration and discussion of an exotic and new location and the cultures that inhabit them.[[user:rlw32|1475264790]==(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?== * Higher education should respond to the growing interest in VR and AR with college-level degree and certification programs. Treehouse, an online coding school (which is private and not a college or university), recently announces a Virtual Reality developer certification. Business Wire story - Lawrence.Miller Lawrence.Miller Sep 21, 2016
  • Lack of specific funding combined with a lack of technical expertise provide a barrier to adoption of VR. - damian.mcdonald damian.mcdonald Sep 22, 2016 - lkoster lkoster Sep 30, 2016
  • The need for standarized, open, low cost head mount displays, suitable for relatively carelessly use in educative contexts. The need for inter operational platforms. - fledezma fledezma Sep 22, 2016
  • I think there might be a need to offer an explanation on 360 video in the above. It's an immersive experience that can be accessed using VR tools. However, I think there is a difference and will be more differentiated further as both technologies take off. I feel one offers opportunities to produce new mediums, whereas the other offers new ways to experience traditional mediums. I hope that makes sense.https://www.cnet.com/news/virtual-reality-terminology-vr-vs-ar-vs-360-video/ - matthew.worwood matthew.worwood Sep 25, 2016seconded- rlw32 rlw32 Sep 30, 2016
  • I think augmented reality needs to be more explicitly covered here. While it has been around for some time, the phenomenal success of Pokemon Go this year shows that the concept of embedding virtual content in real world settings has finally gained acceptance in the popular imagination. - billshewbridge billshewbridge Sep 29, 2016 - lkoster lkoster Sep 30, 2016 - paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Oct 5, 2016 - paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Oct 5, 2016 - paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Oct 5, 2016 !!!!
  • The description focuses primarily on relatively high-end VR; however, much of the most interesting work is taking place using low-cost devices such as smartphones with Google Cardboard-type viewers, simple 360° cameras such as the Ricoh Theta S, and easy to learn basic scripting environments.[[user:rubenrp|1475458039==(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on higher education?== * In online education in the health professions, this technology greatly expands the capacity to learn complex skills that might not be accessible in agencies in a studnet's local environment. - deborah.cooke deborah.cooke Sep 6, 2016
  • VR may one day be able to compete with RR (Real Reality), and once it does, the possibilities are endless. - damian.mcdonald damian.mcdonald Sep 22, 2016
  • At the most obvious level, immersive VR can offer benefits for areas (like medical sciences, aerospace engineering, biosciences) that need to faithfully recreate experiences with complex environments and costly procedures. However, it's true potential as a new medium, capable of generating experiences not necessarily related with the physical world, is yet to be discovered and understood. - fledezma fledezma Sep 22, 2016
  • I think there is an opportunity for students to experience traditional class settings, while being immersed within a VR. Whether it is through 360 video or a computer generated environment, educators can replicate a recent classroom experience so that group discussions, workshops, and lectures, etc. can be reviewed outside of class. - matthew.worwood matthew.worwood Sep 25, 2016
  • VR could be used to generate 3D world of student work. For example, if a student creates a 3D model of something, could it be recreated in VR so they can investigate whether their model is sound. - lkoster lkoster Sep 30, 2016
  • One of the interesting things and trends around this is the fact that it is a technology that requires _convergence_ between existing academic fields: film, games, interactives, computer vision, optics, HCI. Some of the best work is multi- and inter-disciplinary because of the nature of the problem, and so this is challenging existing funding streams and project locations to think differently.
  • On the VR/AR divide I think they are a lot less divided than might be assumed by the popular press: these are two technologies that are going to learn and borrow from each other for quite some time. There are times from a content and experience perspective that you want to block out the physical world, and other times you want to engage with it through technology. But the core of interaction, vision, perspective, and optics will continue to advance in ways that are synergistic.

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • Simulations/Virtual Reality Simulations for authentic learning and especially in combination with virtual reality is likely to come into play in the future. We have not fully utilized this. With the availability of Google 360 videos, Pokémon like games, this is likely to find niche uses. While I do not foresee this is to prevalent across disciplines, I see that niche disciplines like medicine, aeronautics, may benefit from this. - nacha_sockalingam nacha_sockalingam Sep 9, 2016. - deborah.cooke deborah.cooke Sep 11, 2016 - gilly.salmon gilly.salmon Sep 26, 2016 (- rneuron rneuron Sep 27, 2016)THHIS IS THE BIGGY FOR me- THE INNOVATION COMES WITH THE COMBINATIONS AND INTEGRATIONS. For the VET sector 360 video is being used in mechanical workshop simulations and for OHS as well as nursing, there is also a need for high end quality maritime simulation such as the Broome Maritime Simulation Centre - yvette.drager yvette.drager Sep 29, 2016- deone.zell deone.zell Oct 2, 2016 - bryan.alexander bryan.alexander Oct 3, 2016 [Editor's Note: Added here from RQ2.]
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(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on higher education?

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(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

  • The University of Maryland, College Park ran a class on virtual reality last spring. Students were required to design their own interactive world, work with 3D audio and experiment with immersive technologies. Emerson College (CA) had its 1st VR filmmaking course.last January. .College Students Experiment with Virtual Reality - Lawrence.Miller Lawrence.Miller Aug 17, 2016
  • The University of British Columbia experimented with a full lecture in VR. Students Oculus Rift headsets and watched a gaming lawyer deliver a lecture. Virtual reality: could it revolutionise higher education? - Lawrence.Miller Lawrence.Miller Aug 17, 2016
  • There are at least two new companies, YouVisit and Kira Academy, that use VR to aid in the recruitment of students. Video Chat Your Way Into College: How Tech Is Changing The Admissions Process - Lawrence.Miller Lawrence.Miller Aug 17, 2016
  • At WGU, we currently use virtual simulations in our health professions courses. - deborah.cooke deborah.cooke Sep 6, 2016
  • For the last five years, LINNEA, the Learning Experiences Laboratory at the University of Chihuahua, has been exploring the potential of VR as a learning enabler in different educative contexts, formal and non-formal. From conservation video games, created in partnership with National Geographic explorers, to short animated films, to anatomy simulators, to an International Space Station's Canadarm2 robotic arm that interactively facilitates the learning of basic trigonometry, to applications in science and technology museums; VR has become an important part of the university's learning innovation and edtech strategy. - fledezma fledezma Sep 22, 2016
  • Penn State is exploring applications of VR in numerous ways, one is through a new faculty-research focused event called Immersive Experiences Symposium and looking at the College of Agricultural Sciences as a discipline for faculty partnerships in creating 360° video content for students based on short course study abroad programs and opportunities around Extension offices around the state.- rlw32 rlw32 Sep 30, 2016
  • Since early 2015, Emory Craig from the College of New Rochelle has been using Cardboards and other mobile VR devices in his New Media and Society course, where students are viewing, analyzing content and discussing the future impact of VR on society. - mayaig mayaig Oct 3, 2016
  • The RIT MAGIC Center recently created a VR/AR laboratory, with a number of projects in development: https://www.rit.edu/news/story.php?id=54169

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