Our product is in regards to the implantation of Virtual Reality into the world of higher level education. Due to this a lot of the research we conducted are in regard to how virtual reality can be implemented into education and weighing the interest that higher education institutes have in investing into educational virtual reality. Our business will aim to provide educational institutions with all they need to run these virtual classrooms by providing the necessary headsets, organizing the necessary classroom software and creating any necessary applications afterwards (An example of this would be a location in the classroom software that helps emulate a specific college’s classrooms).
This is an especially relevant topic to us now as Covid-19 has rendered many classes to be done solely online, with virtual reality we hope to provide a more immersive personal experience in the classroom without the need to physically meet up. We have also undergone research and a field study to see if more immersive forms of learning are more beneficial for students in regards to learning. Lastly, we have researched how interested colleges are in investing into virtual reality which showed overwhelming evidence that suggests they are very interested.
An example of how virtual reality can help enhance learning can be seen by looking at the video below.
We investigated the virtual reality market to get an idea on the history of virtual reality and how the market has increased as the years went by. When technology becomes more well known by the public the market rapidly increases which in turn leads to more advancements for that technology and thus the cycle repeats.
One forecast of interest we found was a forecast made by IDC in 2018. This forecast was made to show what they believed would be the market growth in the next 5 years for virtual reality and augmented reality. This shows quite the substantial increase for increase in the virtual reality market, overtime this interest almost doubles as every year passes. Due to the fact that this forecast was made in 2018 it could be argued that it is quite outdated. Back in 2018 no one could have predicted Covid-19 nor the pandemic that would follow because of it. We have found that the Covid-19 pandemic has heightened interest in the virtual reality market much faster and higher than was predicted in this chart.
With this we have also researched if colleges are among those investing into virtual reality and how interested they are to invest into it. This was done through research into articles, survey results and running our own field study. Through this research we have found that colleges are very interested in virtual reality and according to a survey 36% of participants deemed that virtual reality technology is most applicable to education.
An important part of developing this project is to find the classroom software we are going to use, we found Engage to be perfect for this. Engage is a software made to facilitate virtual reality classes by emulating many different types of classrooms and meetings. This software is to be used by lecturers, students, and business people in meetings. Engage is a tool that is used to host meetings, presentations, events, and classes. These are live sessions, and the software is simple to use with several unique lecture halls and locations to use.Engage boasts many features to not only emulate the classroom setting but also enhance it with it’s features such as the media player, form creator and many locations to choose from.
We have chosen this software to facilitate online classes on as it has good customization options and greatly beats anything else on the market. To find out more about Engage and to download it here is a link to the main website https://engagevr.io/.
In our research we have found studies that show that 47% of Generation Z (those born after 1997) and 60% of millennials (those aged between 23 and 40) prefer more non-traditional methods of learning. Virtual reality, the focus of this project can be classified as a non-traditional method of learning. Instead of viewing virtual reality in education through a broad scope, we have examined specific courses and how it may be implemented in them.
Example of some potential courses that can have virtual reality implemented in them are as follows.
Computer Science – Virtual reality can be used to teach students software development skills. This can be achieved using applications such as RifSketch which provides a live-coding environment where students can be fully immersed in the code they are writing.
Law – Law tends to focus on traditional learning methods with infrequent visits to courthouses where students can experience a court-room session. Virtual reality could be used in this case to virtually transport law students to legal environments such as a courtroom.
Sports – Sports students can utilise the capabilities of virtual reality in numerous ways. Students can immerse themselves in a previously played match where they can analyse mistakes they made as well as successful plays they can repeat. Students can also exercise virtually.
Aerospace Engineering – Engineering students can use virtual realtiy to perform maintenance on various equipment or machinery. In this case, aerospace engineering students can utilise virtual reality to perform tasks on aircraft that normally wouldn’t be available to them.
Medicine – Medical students can use virtual reality for numerous scenarios. They can be fully immersed in a hospital environment where they can experience the atmosphere and busy nature of a medical institution. Medical students could also use virtual reality to practise surgery without worrying about making mistakes.
In terms of creating virtual reality applications, we have outlined an approach to its development that being DevOps. DevOps is useful for promoting total collaboration between development teams and operations teams. In this case, operations teams can identify areas where virtual reality may be useful and development teams can convert this information into a working virtual reality platform
When introducing any type of technology into the world at large it is important to research social issues and ethical concerns the technology could cause. Throughout this we have found social aspects of virtual reality that could help the student socially. Students who struggling to speak up in classes may feel more confident when using online avatars. This can imply that they may be more likely to ask questions or may work better in group projects. Virtual reality could also help impaired students participate better in the classroom depending on the impairment. We have also identified some ethical and social issues however. People could become desensitized to the real world if constant use of virtual reality is done. There are also mild health concerns to keep into consideration such as nausea, headaches and the weight of the virtual reality helmet causing stress on the neck.
Thankfully most of these issues can easily be solved by promoting a healthy balance between virtual reality classes and standard classes. There are non health ethical concerns that do need to be considered as well such as the home environment of the student. Such factors will need to be better understood to find a case by case solution for them.
While it is useful to outline the benefits of using virtual reality, we also identified any issues or problems that may be encountered during its use. Legal issues are a prevalent aspect of any technology, and virtual reality is no different. Privacy issues surrounding technology have become much more common in recent years, this is also applicable to virtual reality. Another legal issue that may be experienced whilst using virtual reality technologies is that of intellectual property. Because virtual reality intends to emulate reality, the issues that surround intellectual property in the real world may be transferred over the virtual world. This may affect the usage of images, text, sound, and logos in a virtual environment. Virtual reality companies such as Engage strong specify that any of these forementioned media items must be completely owned by the user.
Over the duration of this project we did two field studies to help assist us in finding out two aspects, are colleges interested in investing into virtual reality? Are more immersive forms of teachings really more efficient than standard online classes?
In the first field study seventeen IT department heads in different colleges were emailed with a form with three multi choice questions. Out of these seventeen, seven department heads filled out the form.
The first question was “Would you interested in the idea of using Virtual Reality to deliver your courses in your department? (Or any of your lecturers)”
In a surprising result all seven colleges who responded were interested in implementing virtual reality into their courses.
The second question was “If yes to question 1 how soon would you wish to start investing in Virtual Reality?”
This result shows that colleges are interested in investing into virtual reality very soon, most of them hoping to implement it in one to three years.
Finally, the last question was “How much would you be willing to invest in implementing Virtual Reality delivered courses?”
While there’s a lot of interest in investing into virtual reality very soon the amount most colleges wish to invest rests on the lower side of the spectrum.
For the second field study we wanted to see if students end up retaining more information from a lesson if they were to do so in a more immersive learning environment compared to the standard online class. To do this we gathered six different students and divided them into three’s. Three would take a standard online class (using Microsoft Teams) and the other three would learn in a more immersive manner (using Engage). To do this we found a video summarizing the events of World War 2 in approximately 10 minutes (Link to the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2dfq5GQcw_o).
We made 9 multi choice questions in relation to this video for the students to answer. In the teams class three separate applications had to be used for the class to operate as we intended, Teams, an internet browser that can access YouTube and Microsoft Forms. Meanwhile on Engage all the applications we needed were all on the one application due to it’s inbuilt media player and form creator, making it a lot more convenient. After we played the the videos for the students and handed them the survey we had our results.
The students who undertook the standard online class had an average score of 59% while the students who took the more immersive approach to learning achieved an average of 82%. While the sample size was small we do think this is a positive result for showing how immersive forms of learning can be beneficial to the student. In the Engage class once they finished the survey they were asked how they felt about the more immersive approach and two of them suggested that it helped them retain focus where they would otherwise struggle in a normal class.
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