VR&Education Summit at SXSWEdu
VR&Education Summit at SXSWEdu
On Monday, March 8th, we (MindCET) had our summit on VR&Education at theSXSWedu conference. The idea was to introduce the opportunities #VR can bring to #education, to provide an opportunity for the attendees to prototype VR EdTech solutions and to discuss the future use and challenges of VR in education.
1. VR&Education – introduction: We began by introducing VR and showing the possibilities and opportunities that VR can bring to education: Unlike other ways of learning, which enable the student to watch or read the content – what only VR can do is to enable the student to BE:
to BE somewhere else – weather it’s a fantastic imaginary world (like entering the human body or taking the students to explore gravity on different planets.
to BE someone else – VR can trick your brain to believe you are someone else, and by that create empathy among students to different cultures, people or social situations.
And since we are in the first stage of VR, we want to learn some important lessons from the birth of cinema and make some analogies to the first movie ever made by the Lumiere Brothers. the insights we gt out of these comparison were: Immersion is a moving target – what is considered immersive today won’t be the same in the future and we need to remember this when we develop VR educational apps; VR must go beyond the WOW – VR is still a jaw-dropping technology but we have to think about pedagogy first and not rely on the wow effect; The future of VR is social and only if it becomes a social experience it will succeed, and VR is not just a glorified movie or game – it is something else and we should bear it in mind while designing VR for education.
2. Tour of Inspiration: We experienced three significant educational VR projects: Google Expeditions, MindCET Ex projects and the VR educational apps from the University of Chihuahua.
3. Prototyping a VR EdTech product: hands-on workshop
A highlight of the event was certainly the dynamic and enthusiastic prototyping workshops. Groups of 6-8 attendees that did not know each other previously, passionately and collaboratively designed their VR solution to given educational challenges. The WS provided to everyone (teachers, administrators, programmers, researchers,…) the opportunity to actually take hold, own the process of creating educational solutions. The VR Product Development Canvas, designed by MindCET Research Team, guided the process, making easy and accessible to all the attendees a product development process, including the virtual reality specific requirements.
The ideas “pitched” ranged from: a collaborative game that requires groups of students to build and sustain a city “air cleaned”; students travelling around the world and practicing greeting phrases of different cultures – cultural competency learning; ensuring students competency in dealing with environmental challenges, by experiencing virtually and acting in the real world; students telling a story they create and build on an VR environments that is based on existing literature; students having to collaborate to survive an earthquake by taking risks on a virtual “safe” environment which allow them to develop basic survival skills; survival skills were practice also on another idea related to fire drill.
4. Panel: How can VR affect education?
To wrap up, a very interesting debate was offered by 4 panelists, Prof. Renee Hobbs, Dr. Jeremy Roschelle, Jennifer Holland and Avi Warshavsky. A few of the challenges and opportunities that VR bring to education were raised especially in connection to the projects designed during the workshop. The panelists agreed that the session brought a real example of empowering the users as an essential element on the design of VR solutions. Educators and students are traditionally at the end of the product development process, purely as receptors. The opportunity of having them as part of the creating process allows them not only to embrace and claim this technology but it also brings another opportunity – having them as content creators. Another interesting opportunity is having the VR experiences as provokers of real world actions, which intensifies a deep world learning. An important challenge that should be turned into an opportunity is to use the VR immersion as a mean to develop critical distance, an essential skill students need to develop as they increasingly become daily media users.