Virtual Reality in OER

Activity 22: An open education technology

At CES, Las Vegas 2016, VR was everywhere.  Every large technology company had their own version with applications ranging from the medical to entertainment to revolutionising rollercoaster rides. 360-fly  And of course like most new technologies, the feeder companies were there – Go-Pro style cameras that allow you to film your latest death-defying base jump or cycle run not just from the point of view of the rider, but from a 360 degree, adrenalin inducing point of view.  Production of a 360 film may still require a $300 camera, but this is a fraction of what studio time can cost.

But surely this is the opposite of open education.  Big business, expensive technology and gimmicks.  But thanks to innovators working in communities like Maker Faire or Google Cardboard, VR can be used by anyone in possession of a smart phone.   A quick search on YouTube’s new 360 channel found gems such as:  Swimming with Great White sharks; A beautifully filmed representation of what would happen if Gravity wasn’t constant The Pull; as well as news articles on The earthquakes in Japan and Nepal.

This may be seen as gimmicky or just for fun; so what purpose does it serve in learning? Possibly because by enhancing our other senses, not just sight, but sight that changes with our body movement; sound that doesn’t come from speakers, but a full surround sound sensation, we can emotionally involve our learners in the material on offer. Further motivate them to engage with their learning.  Another voice, another perspective, pulling them into the story, challenging their preconceptions and encouraging them to really think about the concepts being presented.

Or maybe, just because, if you’re meant to be looking at your phone,  using Google Cardboard, while standing up, and interacting with a partner – it’s much harder to hide at the back of the class and sleep.

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2 thoughts on “Virtual Reality in OER

  1. spiro602 says:

    I am a governor at a local primary school and am chair of the curriculum committee. We were talking about the ‘Pupil Premium’ children, in the UK such children, for a range of reasons, attract extra government funding which schools must use only in bettering the chances of those children. We were looking at their literacy (mainly writing) results and looking at why they tend to fair worse than other students. The reason in a lot of cases came down to a lack of positive life experiences, experiences that gives students something to write about, an incentive to develop language skills. Reading this made me wonder it this was a gap that VR could plug, it would be expensive but one headset could be used by a number of children and would certainly make a huge difference to what they may write about when asked what they did at the weekend!

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  2. katkander says:

    The second option I mentioned – that of Google cardboard is very cheap. Around 10 pounds for a headset, and any standard smart phone. You also need the free Cardboard app. Just found quite a nice film with all the planets labelled and details about their temperatures etc. which students can read.

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