Tagged: W12A22

Week 12 – Activity 22: An open education technology

Timing: 2 hours

  • Write a short blog post suggesting one additional technology that is important for open education, either from the role of a learner or a provider. The technology can be one that has been significant, or one that you feel is going to become increasingly relevant.What you include as a technology can be quite broad: for instance, it can be a general category (such as social networks), a specific service or a particular standard.
  • In your post briefly explain what the technology is, and then why you think it is important for open education. The emphasis should be on open education in particular, and not just education in general.

Answer: Virtual reality.


Some thoughts:

We have begun to see the first commercial wave of VR, in the form of the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive. The main attraction, or marketing point of these technologies currently has been around gaming, though I propose that within open ed this technology will have profound impacts in the following ways:

  • Immersion – students will be able to experience a range of scenarios in great detail. This immersion, which would include more sounds, visuals, and a natural feel, could well have impact on learner’s retention due to the ‘experience’ being more real (as appose to reading about something or watching a video). This could be particular useful in the realm of education for remote locations.
    • I.e. it is difficult to train as a surgeon in rural communities. This could be bridged by virtual representations of surgery, taking the student not only into the surgery room, but through the view of the professional – or even acting as the surgeon in a simulated environment.
  • New environments – Similar to how access to remote telescopes or 3D printers is steadily increasing in schools, VR could provide another way to experience an array of new environments through opening up new locations to students.
  • Remote locations – For students learning remotely the ability to share a virtual classroom space or visit a lecture hall could provide a good transition from standard schooling to distance education. This is similar to how Second Life and some colleges have tried to recreate their campus online to bridge this gap. Notably it is very arguable if such an experience is necessary, although it will possibly be tried by at least a few institutions.
    • Moreover, the use of Skype, blackboard, Google Hangouts, and others has brought about advanced capabilities in conferencing. With the increased mobility (be it in a small area) and angles of view that VR could being, a more ‘teleporting’ type presence could be achieved. The ability to virtually walk with a teacher through a museum from anywhere in the world, could increase the level of immersion as well as feeling of connection with peers.
  • Moving towards connectivism – As stipulated above VR could increase our ability to experience realities around the world in a more authentic manner. As such, I see VR as having a profound impact on the popularity of networking. Sharing links and videos is fine currently, but as seen with the recent launch of Facebook live video and 3D videos, the level of immersion being achieved is greater than before. I predict this trend to grow even stronger with the rise of VR where our standard of media consumption moves to more active and virtual worlds. It is understandable that from this the ability to really engulf ourselves within other communities and ‘see’ their world could result in a surge in connections being made online. The CoI/CoP (Wenger) and Connectivist work could provide a good starting point through which to view such a transition.