Stop us if you’ve heard this before: virtual reality (VR) is going to change the world! Since the early days of VR, technologists heralded it as the next major computing platform that captured our imaginations for its ability to substitute our physical reality and our sensory experiences. Little did we know that it would take a pandemic to help usher VR front and center as the next major computing platform. Some technology pundits claim that the upcoming war between Apple, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft will make the “battles we saw over smartphones seem like a minor skirmish.”
As massive investments pour into the VR field, improvements to hardware and software are inevitable. They will only help improve the way we interact with these experiences to the point that it becomes as natural as working with a smartphone. Consumers are already embracing VR, and the growth in the last year has been a testament to the fact that a significant market exists, with consumer surveys showing that VR headset owners are extremely engaged with their devices.
As more and more of our potential learners engage with these tools in their personal and professional lives, we, in education, need to integrate these experiences in teaching and learning purposefully to stay current with required practices and skills in the marketplace.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the need for institutions to shift to remote learning accelerated VR adoption for teaching and learning now more than ever before. The platform’s potential is unquestionable, and it is already changing how we train surgeons and police officers, how we tell stories, and even how we treat chronic pain. Despite the tailwinds, it is essential to recognize that VR still has a long way to become ubiquitous.
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