Taste-testing Educational VR

Less is sometimes more. That explains why, when confronted with a tantalizing array of possible food choices at a bountiful buffet, I prefer to sample only a spoonful of some of the delightfully prepared dishes beckoning to me. Just a spoonful, mind you.

FLav SpoonsWith the number of activities taking space in the educational virtual reality space, the same strategy is useful, because, frankly, it’s just impossible to keep up in this new industry. And not every little VR dish served up is worthy of a dedicated article. The answer seems to be a periodic curation of interesting developments, products or practices. And that’s what I have here: just a few spoonfuls tempting us with the most delicious and noteworthy efforts emerging from the educational VR world. Of course, the running culinary commentary is all mine.

Spoon1 sitesHoover Dam. Pixela Labs and IndustrialVR have collaborated in creating the first of many VR experiences focused around enterprise professional education. According to Vitalii Boyko of Pixela Labs, “over the last seven years we’ve seen a tremendous shift toward digital education materials in which VR inclusion is becoming more important…” The level of intricate detail and supporting materials in Hoover Dam is outstanding, foreshadowing a bright future for VR in vocational and industrial education.

Spoon 2 Devices3D Camera. The Lenovo Mirage 3D Camera keeps popping up at conferences and expos. With the street price now at $249 ($299 retail), it makes sense why it this camera that is tantalizing taste buds so often at educational venues.

Spoon 3 practicesTuition, Fees, Books…and VR. I was wondering when this would happen. It happened already with student response systems (clickers), when students could buy their classroom clickers in their university bookstores. Now Arizona State University is making way for students to buy or rent VR headsets in conjunction with taking classes in the School of Life Sciences. The most interesting development here, however, is that their VR partnership with Google and Labster is being consummated with ASU Online, their respected online delivery program. I have always predicted that VR could very well help bring vividness and experiential learning to the lifeless scroll of death that is online education. And here it is!

Spoon 3 practicesStudent-created Content. A recent student creation in the VR space at Tabor Academy (MA) shows what is possible when students get into the VR game. A student at this school created a 360º Drawing of what Taipei would have looked like if Japan had won WWII. According to Lianne Petrocelli, Academic Technology Specialist at Tabor, the student (Hana) “combined History, Art, Digital Art, and VR Tech all in one amazing creation.” Have a taste.

Spoon1 sitesBreaking Boundaries. Free food is a good thing, and a promising free VR series, Breaking Boundaries, touts their “interactive virtual reality celebration of history’s most influential women scientists”. The ‘taste’ reviews for this application are great and the price is right.

Spoon1 sitesVuze. Back to the hardware domain, VUZE is now offering “classroom-friendly” Virtual Reality camera kits. By that they mean “the kits are designed to give teachers everything they need in one box and be accessible at educator friendly prices”. Translated, this implies multiple configurations, educator pricing, unlimited software licenses for Vuze’s VR Studio, and specialized tech support. This focused attention is always appreciated by educators of every stripe.
–Len Scrogan