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  1. #1
    Obscure Node Rig's Avatar
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    Education in VR: will it be any different?

    Hey, guys! I posted this over in the Oculus subreddit and figured I'd get the hivemind's opinion as well. This is a topic that's been bugging me for a while. (Hope you don't mind me posting in the PC Gaming forum. It seemed the most appropriate, so please correct me if I'm wrong)

    I've been thinking about virtual classrooms and lectures and the like, and I'm not sure how VR will change anything. Oh sure, people will be able to plug in and attend from anywhere, but that's already the case with internet courses and they've hardly revolutionized the Western education system. Instead, they're used as supplements to plain old physical-presence-required classrooms.

    It seems to me that if VR were implemented in the public education system today, it will be used to place a 3D talking head in a white room with a 3D PowerPoint presentation floating alongside. Maybe these slideshows will envelop you and you could touch them and stuff, but how is this different from taking a field trip to a museum and listening to the guide drone about each exhibit you pass? Once the virtual reality novelty wears off, we're back to educational square one.

    Perhaps I'm being pessimistic, but keeping a 30 minute lecture engaging enough for future Jr. High students to learn things is a problem that VR itself can't solve. Even in Ready Player One, people go to virtual classrooms and sit at virtual desks and take virtual field trips and half-listen to the virtual teacher at the virtual front. The more things change, the more they stay the same; why would the education system invest in VR if it results in the same environment?

    We need a new way to teach. How would you use VR to introduce new information to people? How can the presence VR provides be beneficial to retaining that information? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

    Original thread: http://www.reddit.com/r/oculus/comme...any_different/

  2. #2
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus somini's Avatar
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    If they get any political traction, I'll cry in a corner, and the proceed to buy up as much Facebook stock as I can.
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  3. #3
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus rockman29's Avatar
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    Online lectures are very popular, especially in the US at university/college level as far as I understand. Even outside of live online lectures, there are also many disciplines which provide or sell recorded video content. This is a big economy in teaching medicine in the US/Canada, not sure how big in other countries.

    I don't imagine VR really affecting their delivery when it may not add anything more effective for the actual content of the lectures, and is more of some distracting gimmick/luxury feature.

    Not that it couldn't have a niche use, but at least I don't imagine in the broader market of online or video based courses.

    I do think video-based learning and online-learning courses will continue to grow in number though.

    There is also growing use of computerized tests that are not simply multiple-choice entry systems, at least from what I hear in different industries.

  4. #4
    Obscure Node Modifier's Avatar
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    I feel that Virtual reality could have a very large impact on the education, prominently the delivery of it. For instance, imagine that you could learn about the Victorian age traditionally from a text book, to learn about what types of activities these people got up to, and to be able to explore a Victorian life as it were then. After reading about this, rather than the poor students being forced to endure a poorly acted BBC funded or produced video, most likely from the 1990's archive, the students could virtually explore the environments as if they were there, trying to spot activities that their teacher encouraged them to look for. They could really get a feel for Victorian, or any era of life really. Of course, you could run the same interactive environment on a standard computer with a monitor, but virtual reality actually places you there, you are there. Not to mention you're entire periphery vision is covered meaning no distractions, eyes and brain completely focused on the activity.

    I think that with the methods that we already have such as text based reading and analyses, we could further enhance this with the introduction of a virtual world, and the consumer Oculus Rift. My only concern at this point would be funding, being that every student would need a computer powerful enough to run the game, as well as the requirements that the VR needs. However, in time that should not be a problem, and after all this is a discussion of whether VR can enhance education, not if it is to expensive at this point.
    Last edited by Modifier; 16-10-2014 at 07:23 AM.

  5. #5
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    I guess I agree with you, Rig.

    VR isn't actually new. In fields where it's actually beneficial, it's already in use. There may be a few more fields where it'll eventually find use, but it's had decades for people to experiment with it.

    I don't see a use for traditional, sit-in-a-classroom education. I wouldn't be surprised to find a use for people who, say, need to know their anatomy really well. Surgeons, radiologists.

    Too many potential applications for VR remain extraordinarily expensive. The difficulties are similar to those in making a high quality 3d game. Cheap headsets don't mean much when development costs run into multiple millions. Revolutionary technologies in acquiring or creating 3d content are as important as technologies that display that content.

    If "being there" is that important, there are a number of better options. Want to learn history? Go to one of those fake pioneer villages. In the end, it will be cheaper than VR, and verisimilitude will be better.

    I'm not sure that I agree that we need a new way to teach. I think there are a few crises being faced in education, but the big problems I see are about social makeup and money, and technology isn't going to solve those problems.
    Last edited by nate; 16-10-2014 at 07:21 AM.

  6. #6
    Activated Node Xzi's Avatar
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    Well, for one: you can't take a class of kids on a field trip to some museum in France. VR can transcend both physical and financial limitations.

    It's not going to change everything about the way we educate, but there are a number of possible benefits to visual learners. I think a virtual classroom might keep a lot more people "tuned in" as opposed to a browser window on a flat monitor, as well.
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  7. #7
    Lesser Hivemind Node Henke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rig View Post
    why would the education system invest in VR if it results in the same environment?
    This whole post is a bit weird to read since I'm only hearing your counterargument to an argument I've never heard. Who's saying VR is going to change education?

    Anyway, I'll agree with most of the posters in this thread, I don't think it'll do anything for the day-to-day sitting-behind-a-desk learning, but it can certainly be a great presentation tool for information that's easier to take in visually. There's a really great VR app called Titans Of Space which is essentially a guided tour of our solar system. It does a better job of presenting the mindboggling vastness of space and our solar system than anything else I've seen/read. Plus it's a really entertaining way to learn about the planets and the moons.

  8. #8
    Lesser Hivemind Node Spacewalk's Avatar
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    I am so bummed on VR classrooms dudes. Ya can't pass notes around, ya can't launch paper planes towards the blackboard when the teacher ain't lookin', can't draw "TS" on the back of your textbook, can't give the professor the sweats by suggestively winking at them whilst suckin' on the end of your pen and you can't call Alice when you're looking for a good time. There is no good times. Can't get your kicks, can't get the chicks, might as well go to a boring regular school instead at least you can beat up the wimps behind the bleachers after class. You squares can keep it I'm off to the bar to do my homework.

  9. #9
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    Just recently, some companies in San Francisco forced their workers to move to San Francisco.

    San Francisco cost of living is a disaster, they takes literal fortunes to live there.

    This, to me, spell the failure to remotelly-anything.

    It seems only open source has managed to make remote-anything works well, with people from different parts of the world. But then, open source people make a lot of meetings, they sometimes know each other from these meetings, or share a lot trough forums and mail list.

  10. #10
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    Movies can be the best thing of the world, with all those great shots and shit. Yeeeet, those cheap documentaries shown at schools are the worst. I dont see any reason as to why wouldnt vr documentaries suck in 3d too.

  11. #11
    Lesser Hivemind Node L_No's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alevice View Post
    Movies can be the best thing of the world, with all those great shots and shit. Yeeeet, those cheap documentaries shown at schools are the worst. I dont see any reason as to why wouldnt vr documentaries suck in 3d too.
    It's a question of what it will cost, I guess. It's hard enough to find decent IT solutions for educational purposes as it is, introducing VR into the mix will not make it any easier. At lot of people I know personally work as teachers, and they all complain about the crappy computer programs they're forced to use to keep track of the pupils' results and about the terrible educational software they have to use. The companies that make those programs usually aren't willing to spend large amounts of money on updates or new features, because the market for those forms of software isn't very large. If VR is introduced, schools will probably encounter the same problem.
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  12. #12
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus somini's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spacewalk View Post
    I am so bummed on VR classrooms dudes. Ya can't pass notes around, ya can't launch paper planes towards the blackboard when the teacher ain't lookin', can't draw "TS" on the back of your textbook, can't give the professor the sweats by suggestively winking at them whilst suckin' on the end of your pen and you can't call Alice when you're looking for a good time. There is no good times. Can't get your kicks, can't get the chicks, might as well go to a boring regular school instead at least you can beat up the wimps behind the bleachers after class. You squares can keep it I'm off to the bar to do my homework.
    http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfile.../?id=317045300
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  13. #13
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus
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    Above video is a required viewing!

    But all the kids around here already have Ipads. Other countries they get andoid devices.

    In 25-50 years time (or less, who knows how quick or slow things change) each kid could do virtual school trips. But it tends to have to reach saturation with the rest of society first, before the expense if given in schools. I had computers at home before schools had one per kid. We had mobile phones (with the same features) all before schools has a tab per kid. So it will probably follow for VR.

    It won't "improve" things as such. Just change how they are done and possibly decrease some things, like cost of "trips".
    It is a technical difference, but's there none the less.

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