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Virtual Reality and Pedagogy (2017)

Curator: Robyn Lee, University of Alberta | December 2017

Collection Editor: Isabel Pedersen
Acquisitions Editor: Andrew Iliadis
Collection Archivist: Sharon Caldwell

Virtual Reality (VR) is increasingly being used in a wide array of educational disciplines, at levels ranging from elementary to graduate school. From practical training to thinking through complex social problems, there are many opportunities to use VR to positively impact teaching and learning.
This collection explores how immersive technologies, such as virtual and augmented reality, wearable computing, and other networked platforms, can be used as educational tools to support existing teaching methods as well as aiding in the development of new ways of learning. In virtual environments, students can become part of a phenomenon they are studying and experience it directly. VR has been heralded as supporting a return to ‘embodied learning’, immersing students in the topic of study. Emotional responses can be engaged, which enables students to feel more connected to the material. Through promoting interactive learning, virtual reality can help increase motivation, engagement, and critical thinking among students, and aid in knowledge transfer.
VR can give students access to experiences within their classroom that they otherwise could not achieve. VR enables experiences of realistic scenarios with little or no risk to the user. Suitable for a range of different learning styles, it may promote accessibility for students with disabilities, enabling interaction with virtual objects and other students. Increasingly, VR is becoming affordable and accessible for use by students, through google cardboard, smartphones, tablets, and video game devices. VR content is widely accessible through online platforms such as YouTube.
For the most part, virtual reality has been positively received by students across different backgrounds and ages. Some commentators argue that VR will revolutionize learning and will become integral to education in the future.  Others question if it differs significantly from other audio-visual teaching materials, while still others question whether the specific content currently being produced for VR is educationally appropriate. 
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