Immersive Educational Experiences
I’ve long been fascinated by science fiction, and wondering how long it will be until some of the innovations become reality. I’m not much of a movie goer, but with the release of the movie Ready Player One, I thought it was time I read the book – and I was pleasantly surprised by Ernest Cline’s insights into learning environments.
The story essentially talks about a dystopian future, where people escape the drudgery of life by logging into an immersive virtual reality environment. It is a great story, especially if you are a bit of a geek like me!
Interestingly (at least for me), it includes this vision of education in the future which really caught my imagination:
“During our World History lesson that morning, Mr. Avenovich loaded up a standalone simulation so that our class could witness the discovery of King Tut’s tomb by archaeologists in Egypt in AD 1922. (The day before, we’d visited the same spot in 1334 BC and had seen Tutankhamen’s empire in all its glory.)
In my next class, Biology, we travelled through a human heart and watched it pumping from the inside, just like in that old movie Fantastic Voyage.
In Art class we toured the Louvre while all of our avatars wore silly berets. In my Astronomy class we visited each of Jupiter’s moons. We stood on the volcanic surface of Io while our teacher explained how the moon had originally formed. As our teacher spoke to us, Jupiter loomed behind her, filling half the sky, its Great Red Spot churning slowly just over her left shoulder. Then she snapped her fingers and we were standing on Europa, discussing the possibility of extraterrestrial life beneath the moon’s icy crust.
Each one was populated with a variety of artificially intelligent NPCs (non player characters) — computer-controlled humans, animals, monsters, aliens, and androids with which OASIS users could interact.”
What I love about this vision is the potential for immersive learning. I think this would be a great way for students to get virtual “hands on” and to engage with learning in an exciting and interactive way. The gamification of the environment is another real attractor for today’s youth and adults alike.
As a potential future scenario, how likely is this to occur?
Well, the technologies to support this kind of environment are essentially already here. Virtual Reality environments are advancing fairly rapidly, the quality of the equipment, the ability to provide a truly immersive environment are almost there. The cost of these tools and environments is likely to reduce considerably over the next few years, and that will improve accessibility too.
Game creators have already created the tools for us to customise our own avatars and appear how we want to in the virtual world. They’ve also got very realistic non-player characters already in game play, so those are bound to come to virtual environments quickly.
Platforms for creating VR environments are already here too – companies like Byond are creating the tools so you can create a virtual environment. Immersive education platforms are already emerging too – here is another great demonstration from HTC:
As the examples of these improve, I predict we’ll see educational experiences being created that will blow your mind!
The pundits are estimating that virtual and augmented reality will become a $200 billion a year market within 5 years! That is some incredible growth!
Learning questions for you
- What do you think about this development?
- What opportunities will virtual reality bring for education?
- How can we ensure equitable access to these technologies?
One final point
Remember that these technologies are on an accelerating, exponential growth curve. We can realistically expect them to be twice as good within 18 months – and over 1000 times as powerful within 10 years. The future is coming FAST!
I’d predict virtual reality technologies will have a significant impact on learning within 5 years.
Recalibrate are proud to be the co-hosts of the Future of Learning conference, being held in Christchurch on July 9th. For more information, and to book your ticket: futureoflearning.nz