VR Grab Bags: Education Edition

The number of activities taking space in the virtual reality space these days is truly accelerating at a dizzying pace. Frankly, it’s just impossible to keep up. And not every little revelation is worthy of a dedicated article.

The only answer seems to be a periodic curation of interesting developments, products or thinking. And that’s what I have here: just a selection of “grab bags” of the most delicious and noteworthy efforts emerging from the educational VR world. Open any bag, and with delightful expectation, take a look. Of course, the running commentary is all mine.

HAPPY GRAB BAGA Free VR conference. Mark your calendars on October 27-30 for the upcoming Dextra Global VR Summit, which is offering a strong educational VR track. Organizers claim this is the “world’s first summit on VR, in VR”, but I seem to recall something similar in the past. Oh well. It’s a worthy online conference which aims to offer access to pioneers in the field, along with the ability to “network with peers in similar or complementary professions related to VR” using the Dextra platform.

HAPPY GRAB BAGVR as an Academic Major. In earlier articles, I highlighted the growing frequency of private programs (NYTedu and the Academy of VR) designed to teach students to design VR content. Now we have a college in Florida offering a full major in VR design and creation: Ringling College.

Sad Grab BagStuck in First Gear. Everywhere I go, teachers are stuck at first base: using VR for virtual field tips, like this one: Project Pakistan. This is certainly nice, but I can’t wait until educators move on to second base, using interactive simulations to teach rigorous topics (see SuperChem VR) or third base, where students begin to create their own VR content. But it’s also possible to hit a four-bagger, a home run, if kids can create their own VR hardware.

HAPPY GRAB BAGFluent Words. One trend I have noticed, from China to the U.S., is the growing use of virtual reality to improve conversational and situational fluency in world language acquisition. Take a look.

HAPPY GRAB BAGThe New zSpace AR/VR Laptop. zSpace has outdone itself again with its new AR/VR-capable laptop (VR defined here as 3D), now in growing use in the Atlanta Public Schools. See the laptop’s specs here.

Sad Grab BagA Researcher’s Reveal. Last week I was interviewed by researcher from a higher-ed think tank and consultancy group about the newest trends in educational VR. I am sure that my interview slid in at the end of their interviewing process, because the researcher uncharacteristically revealed some of her preliminary findings culled from other interviews. The first reveal is that, at least in higher education, many educators don’t really know how to fit VR within any curriculum or how to use it for educational impact. A second revelation is that most of her higher-ed interviewees pointed to K-12 educators as doing much more with VR than they were in their own universities. Both reveals are not a surprise whatsoever. In my DD article, “VR @ SXSWedu: Reality or Hype?”, I cited a 2017 survey by Pearson that came to the same conclusion as the first reveal. And in my May 2018 article, “Reality Check 2018: VR in the Ed Market”, I scrutinized this issue, but found contrarily that the effective use of VR in K-12 schools is statistically exaggerated. Take a look.


Actual Reality: A New Type of XR. This Actual Reality video, courtesy of Green.TV has gone viral, plus it’s popular with educators. It’s good to laugh at ourselves, at least sometimes.Take a look:

–Len Scrogan