Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality: The Next Frontier in Adult Education

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There I was, standing in my cubicle. My job seemed easy enough: the printer on my desk would print out red or black folders, and I had to file them in the red or black cabinets. I glanced up at the clock. I checked the calendar to see if I had anything interesting planned further into the week. Nope, just work. I returned to my folder sorting task. I glanced up at the clock again. Something didn’t seem right—the numbers on the clock face were out of order. Was I imagining things? I looked over to my calendar again. “WORK NO PLAY” was scrawled in red over every day of the month. I looked back at the clock. The numbers had melted, making the clock look as if it were from a Dahli painting. As I spun around the cubicle in a panic, the floor slowly started to lower. I felt myself falling into the abyss. I had truly entered cubicle hell.

This wasn’t a weird dream. This was a virtual reality experience called “The Cubicle” (check it out here.) I’m a gamer, so when my friend asked me if I wanted to try out his HTC Vive, I enthusiastically took him up on his offer. What I experienced stunned me and completely changed my views on virtual reality. What I thought was a gimmick turned out to be an immersive experience into a variety of different worlds.

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Me, checking out all the latest games and apps available on Steam for the HTC Vive.

This blog post isn’t intended to be a primer on virtual reality (VR). (If you’re interested in learning more about the VR headsets, check out the following guide.) Rather, I’m trying to make the case that VR will be a significant component of adult education. You don’t want to be behind the curve on this one.

Dan White, CEO of Filament Games, presented a VR demo at DevLearn 2016. We asked him to take some time last week to explain the benefits of VR in adult education. Dan argued that VR is a logical solution to problems that require embodied cognition to solve. In other words, VR is an extremely useful educational medium for professionals who use their bodies in order to solve problems in their fields (think surgeons, nurses, electricians, fire fighters, etc.) VR works well for those learners because it removes mediating factors from the educational experience. Rather than controlling an avatar on a screen with a mouse and keyboard, you use your hands to manipulate the environment, just as you would in the real world. This experience provides a better simulation of the professional environment and thus a better learning experience.

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Me, using the HTC Vive.

 

Not only does VR have pedagogical advantages—it also has financial benefits. Instead of having to pay for employees to travel to meet with a trainer, employers can instead opt to purchase a headset and have their employees train through virtual simulations. Companies who offer VR learning experiences to their customers are likely to have a competitive advantage over companies who don’t.

Interested in learning more about simulations and gamification? Check out our blog “Raise The Bar with VR”, and stay tuned for our white paper on Virtual Reality in learning!

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