Virtual Reality in Higher Education

According to eCampus News, one of the top 5 disruptive technologies in higher ed is Augmented Reality / Virtual Reality (source). I think this technology is not disruptive yet, but when it is more widely available, there will be a huge potential. Some of the example usages I think of are:

  • Virtual Site Tours for History, Archeology, and Anthropology Students: Students could watch past event, or do site visits without even needing to travel.
  • Advanced 3D design capabilities for Industrial Design, Architecture and City Planning: Instead of building designs as smaller 3d prototypes, designing in a VR environment would give students more freedom in terms of material, and it would be a lot more convenient to share a design with others.
  • Simulated labs for Engineering fields: Virtual production facilities, virtual building sites, and simulated manufacturing machines would provide engineers with more rigorous training.
  • Virtual discussion and collaboration environments for classes: This would be an important improvement especially for online learning environments because I think the biggest challenge in such environments is communication.

When I was thinking of possible uses of VR, I found that there is already a class on air: VR Storytelling! This course is run by Newhouse School of Public Communications of Syracuse University. Students make 360-degrees video production for this class, and all students are required to have a VR glasses. It is primarily for storytelling experience embedding some VR production in it. I think this class is a really good start for VR technology use, especially for the journalism area – which I could never think of!

A challenge for this class is the size of the files. Each project is 20 GB on average, which makes server requirements a real challenge, and uploading process especially painful. Overall, after further advancement in storage and internet infrastructure, I believe that VR technologies will be used more widely in the classroom in the future (in the next 10 years, maybe).

As a bonus, here is a VR experience for you from National Geographic.