Virtual Reality in an Online Classroom

Virtual Reality for me was synonymous with video game technology until I watched Jeremy Bailenson’s talk on the use of virtual reality in education. I felt that touching and manipulating objects in lab was a much better form of instruction. His discussion about sensing the movements of students as an indicator of understanding was amazing or focusing on each student through your avatar and a kinect system. Then when he talked mentioned a virtual scuba diving trip I was reminded of the movie “Fantastic Voyage”. How neat would it be to take my students on a virtual trip of the atom on an atomic scale? The possibilities are endless as long as the software has been developed.

Now for the downside, as with any technology it all comes down to access. The Google cardboard was intriguing but you need a smartphone. We still have plenty of students without reliable access to internet and smartphones. Would this be cost prohibitive for a public K-12 school system? Will this be used mostly at a post-secondary level? In business? How do we prepare our students for the 21st century VR experience if the technology is changing so rapidly? How long can a student use the system before taking a break? Lots of unknowns but exciting potential!

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