Virtual reality (VR), where one interacts with an environment entirely viewed through some sort of headset could greatly enhance the classroom with or without gamification. Molifino (2015) lists 3 potentials for VR in the classroom:
- Content that grabs students
- Perspective taking and empathy
- Real space to collaborate–an excellent alternative where teaching materials might be too expensive or training is hard to reproduce in the real world.
Beyond the wow factor Chifor & Stefnut note that VR yields immersion in an environment with a higher level of interactivity, protects the learner from distractions and allows for situations where teaching materials are expensive, dangerous or impractical in real life (no date). A video tutorial of a science lab is captivating, a 360 degree movie is eye-opening, a VR game that teaches algebra is astounding, a ride on a flying unicorn via a VirZoom exercise bike invigorating. The possibilities are limited by our imaginations and the time to be invested in creating the materials. Indeed, students and teachers see “…enormous potential in terms of virtual field trips, historical simulations, scientific experimentation, and creative expression” (Castaneda et al. 2016).
Augmented reality, where the user can see the real world with augmentation, like Google Glass, is another application with huge potential. Imagine training modules that offer explanations of what the trainee is seeing with the flick of an eye lid and instant translation of signage for language learners.
We are on the front edge of this technology and there are some challenges such as potential “cybersickness” or injury from a student running into physical objects while immersed in a virtual world (Molfino, 2015). In addition, the costs associated with outfitting students with the equipment needed are an issue. Google Cardboard is a cheap headset $5-$15, but it needs the smartphone to go with it. Only 37 percent of teenagers 13-17 have (or have access to) a smartphone (CITA).
Materials to use with the VR applications are currently few and are expensive and time-consuming to produce. The quality of the materials varies greatly from excellent realistic virtual field trips to clunky museum tours. As Rasmus (2016) noted “VR needs more engineers and editors who know how to create good VR experiences, and fewer cameras generating stitched-together footage of people surfing, climbing mountains and rocking out.”
In conclusion, VR has tremendous potential in classrooms, and particularly with a view to gamification. The technology is interactive and immersive in nature, like a good video game. With the application of good curriculum and design the possibilities are exciting.
Castaneda, L. Cechony, A. & Swanson, T. (2016, July). Implications of Virtual Reality in Applied Educational Settings. Foundry 10.org. Retrieved from: http://foundry10.org/dev/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Implications-of-Virtual-Reality-in-Applied-Educational-Settings.pdf
Chifor, M. & Stefanut, T. (No date). Immersive Virtual Reality Application Using Google Cardboard and Leam Motion Technologies. Ojaoi.net Retrieved from: http://oaji.net/articles/2015/2024-1447175761.pdf
CITA Wireless Foundation. Kids Wireless Use Facts. Retrieved 2016, September 28. Retrieved from: http://www.growingwireless.com/get-the-facts/quick-facts
Molfino, A. (2015 April 7). The Potential (and Challenges) for Virtual Reality in Education. Retrieved from: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/potential-challenges-virtual-reality-education-agustin-molfino
Rasmus, D. (2016, January 16). The state of Virtual Reality in 2016: What’s Working, What’s Not, and What’s Next. GeekWire. Retrieved from: http://www.geekwire.com/2016/the-state-of-virtual-reality-whats-working-whats-not-and-whats-next/