Real Learning through Virtual Reality
Winona State University
Whether it is due to illness, schedule conflicts, travel distance, or any other reason, there are times that students cannot attend an event in person. Traditionally, recording the event with an audio device or a standard video camera for future playback was the best we could do. These processes produced records of the event, but it was difficult for the listener/viewer to be fully engaged in the recording as it was a flat, dimensionless representation.
One way to combat this is through the use of virtual reality. Virtual reality, or VR, utilizes 360-degree video, simultaneously recording in all directions. When users view the video, they enter the center of the recording and have the ability to change their viewpoint to look at anything around them. Virtual reality is often augmented with additional information the viewers can examine at their discretion. VR videos can be experienced through computers, mobile devices, or special immersive headsets.
Using virtual reality is not needed everywhere, but in some cases, VR can be indispensable. For example:
- Nursing simulations are an important part of learning nursing skills. Simulations recorded in 3D video would be of value in several ways.
- Students can interact with the recording as a means to review the activity. It would be like going back in time and attending the simulation again.
- Students that miss the simulation can interact with the video as if they are there in person.
- Teachers can review the activity to examine student participation as well as critique the exercise as a whole.
- A 360-degree video of an elementary classroom would give a teacher-to-be great insight into what happens in schools. Without leaving the classroom at WSU, the student could visit the recorded VR classroom and see how young students interact with each other and with their teacher, how a room is organized, and how the dynamics of a live classroom play out.
- Each summer, WSU geology students travel to North Dakota to dig for dinosaur fossils as guests of Hell Creek Fossils. Only a limited number of students can go, but interest in the trip is high. Recording 360-degree videos of a dig site and allowing students to “visit” the site with a VR headset would give them a good idea of what a dig is like and generate interest in participation in future expeditions.
- VR can be used to promote the university to potential students. Showing prospective students VR videos like the ones listed above (while not violating any HIPAA laws or privacy) would go a long way toward making an impression and influencing an enrollment decision.