Trends and Applications in VR and AR for Online Learning

Concurrent Session 10
Streamed Session

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Brief Abstract

This session explores the use of immersive technologies in online environments. We examine recent developments and creative tools in VR and AR, strategies for implementation and their potential impact on student engagement. 360 Photospheres, social VR, data visualization, and new forms of storytelling promise new opportunities for online pedagogy.

Extended Abstract

If 2016 saw the introduction of VR and AR in the consumer and technology sectors, the defining moment of 2017 is the rise of low-cost VR headsets and the availability of 360° cameras and VR creation tools for faculty and students. The marketplace is rapidly moving toward a set of competing VR platforms (Google Daydream, the Oculus Store on Samsung Gear VR, and Microsoft’s new devices) while simultaneously providing greater access. This raises fundamental questions for online learning: How do we implement the use of virtual and augmented reality in a rapidly changing technology landscape? What types of VR and AR resources and new creative tools are applicable for learning? What kind of learning experiences are we going to design?  How will they impact online student learning and engagement? In short, how do we leverage this new technology development in the teaching and learning environment?

This session will highlight the new affordances, ease of use and the challenges that need to be considered for implementation in online courses and programs. Social VR will supplement and enhance the current reliance on online discussion forums. Students will be able to share 360° Photospheres, take their colleagues to virtual locations and share augmented reality resources. These new tools will transform learning and empower learners to visualize problems, and experience immersive stories and data in new ways.

Rapidly developing creativity tools for virtual world building will transform the structure of the customary online course paradigm, moving it from text and video resources to immersive experiences. Interactive simulations and games will provide rich contexts for experiential and embodied learning, focusing on challenge and problem-based approaches. Emerging ideas about storytelling in VR and AR suggest that it will profoundly reshape our traditional concept of narrative structure. In immersive environments, the sense of presence, empathy, and agency will transform the way we make and experience stories.

Virtual Reality raises increasingly important questions about traditional formats of text, video, narrative and storytelling in the learning environment. How do we shape 360° storytelling to create learning experiences? What new models of interpretation do we need for virtual environments? The developments in VR and AR will require that we rethink our traditional models of online pedagogy and learning design.

The session learning objectives are:

  1. Gain insight into the latest developments and opportunities presented by VR and AR in the teaching and learning environment  
  2. Explore opportunities in social VR to enhance the sense of community in online learning
  3. Understand emerging forms of storytelling and interactive simulations in a new medium
  4. Identify strategies for implementation of immersive experiences in online learning environments