Virtual Worlds like Second Life have been used by pioneering educators for over a decade. Now many are looking to immersive VR as a new tool for their work.
On Tuesday 23rd April, Educators in VR co-founder Daniel Dyboski-Bryant gave a keynote speech at VCARA’s 10 year anniversary conference in their iSchool Island in Second Life. He spoke to about 40 VW attendees about the opportunities and challenges of education in VR, and highlighted that virtual world (VW) educators are at an advantage when approaching VR, as they are in many ways ahead of the game. As such, VW educators can bring their experience with them to help VR educators find their way. Many of the issues VR educators are currently dealing with have already been grappled with by VW educators.
“Now is an exciting time for VR and education as we see the arrival of 6dof standalone headsets such as the HTC Vive Focus plus and the Oculus Quest. Couple these with 5G and a traditional education already under increasing pressures and we could be about to witness the ‘perfect storm’ in the classroom. With immersive remote teaching and training fast approaching there is a real vision for the democratization of education on the horizon.”
The challenges and hurdles involved in getting started and making it work at scale were also discussed. This area is so new that much of the work is still exploratory. Resistance to adoption in schools can still be challenging and the awareness and experience of good VR is still lacking. There are many promising signs as well. One is that there seems to be considerable funding available for those who know how to apply for it.
One surprising recommendation Daniel made was the need to train ourselves in the exact opposite direction of tech. He suggested that the more powerful this immersive technology becomes, the more we need to develop habits and skills around completely unplugging. Daniel has been meditating for many years and finds that he seeks stillness and breathing even more now, just to balance out the stimulation afforded by these new technologies. There is magic to play with in VR, but it needs to be wisely approached.