vr in edu
“Mostly early adopters attend CES,” said Todd Richmond, director of advanced prototype development at the Institute for Creative Technologies at the University of Southern California, in a phone interview. “What’s interesting is that, even among people at CES, not everybody had experienced VR first-hand,” he said. “For some of those people, that was the first time they had experienced VR.”
This select audience’s view that education is the most likely realm to benefit from the technology isn’t far afield, said Richmond.
The Institute for Creative Technologies at USC, for instance, has a patent-pending design for a viewer that clips onto a tablet and creates the same effect as a Google Cardboard, he said. “The top part is an immersive 3D (experience), and the bottom half of the display can show text, videos, or be a virtual joystick controller so you can control what you’re viewing,” Richmond explained.
Asked whether VR and AR aren’t likely to be adopted only in schools that can afford it, Richmond said that in 15 or 20 years, these technologies will be “like tables and chairs”—infrastructure that is part of the classroom. “Look at computers,” he said. “They had a small place in the classroom. Now they’re in every classroom.”
In the meantime, he foresees schools setting up virtual reality labs, with a few devices, much like schools once relied upon computer labs, within the next few years.
“The content is a harder piece,” Richmond said. “That’s where the biggest cost is going to be, and where the biggest contribution from outside providers is going to be.” Students and teachers will generate their own user-generated content, too, which will be uploaded to a large-scale repository like YouTube, he said.
And then, there are the age-old K-12 questions to be solved by educators: “While this [VR and AR] gives increased experiential advantage to students…how does it fit into the curriculum? What do you do with that content? And how does that fit with our lesson plans?” he asked.