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A trend that's here to stay? Colleges adding VR/AR Programs


eCampus News recently ran an article detailing how colleges and universities are adding VR, AR programs to their course offerings. EON Reality Inc, a provider of Virtual Reality-based knowledge transfer, announced its partnership with two leading universities, Lehman College in the Bronx, New York and Oral Roberts University located in Tulsa, Oklahoma.


While the two programs will function slightly differently at each institution, the goal of VR, AR at the institution level is the same: to prepare students for careers in the growing field of Virtual and Augmented Reality industries.


The Virtual and Augmented Reality industries are rapidly growing and require an influx of talent to meet the changing market’s demands, which some project to be close to $150 billion by 2020. Companies lose $1 million annually because they can’t find employees with the skills needed for technical computing jobs.


The concept of “edutainment”, a new buzzword meaning entertainment, particularly video games or VR, with an educational aspect, aims to solve these problems by breaking down the barrier between education and entertainment with the intent of readying students for VR/AR careers.


“AVR is the first digital and mediated-technology that has proven to directly impact the success of students at every level,” said Michael L. Mathews, ORU’s chief Information and Education Strategist. 


What is VR’s place in the modern classroom? Is edutainment a fad or a powerful learning tool? We think it's a powerful learning tool -- VR transcends traditional "computing" careers. Think of what the Louvre Museum could do with VR! Or a hotel who wants to advertise their meeting spaces? The technology already exists -- now it's time to play catch up!


Share your thoughts! 


Additional Resources


Facebook has already created an AI that created its own language:


I think it's very cool, but I've only seen one compelling VR app that I would definitely use in class.  It's called Atlas Human Anatomy app. In the brief gif I recorded below, you'll see me rotate the human head and then zoom in and start to remove (or "dissect") parts of the brain.  I would definitely use this app (99 cents for the free version which I used here) when teaching the parts of the brain:






Cool beans!


this is awesome @michael_britt


I took Anatomy and Physiology a year ago and this would have been so helpful!! Instead, I took pictures of models with my phone and made PowerPoints! I thought I was being innovative.....haha. Now we just need some VR tools for learning muscles. I'm sure it exists though! 


VR tools for learning muscles? You got it.  This same .99 cent app covers all the muscles of the human body:





Okay, now I was successful in placing a virtual reality "person" next to me at a table at Starbucks. Just not sure yet, why I would want to do this....? Smiley Happy




Love it. Consider this- Imagine that person is one of your students in a digital office hour who you could see (digitally) face to face and assist at any time.


Facebook Spaces, a new virtual reality (VR) social app produced by the tech giant touted in its name, landed on the scene on a couple of months ago, sparking higher ed’s imagination about whether the future of online learning could be VR based. The first manifestation of  Facebook's aquisition of Oculus Rift, Facebook Spaces seeks to bring a physical dimension to online interactions by allowing people (or rather, avatars of people) to come together in a shared, virtual, three-dimensional space.  While the potential for the tool is notably exciting in its promise to provide more immersive community-building and learning experiences online, Facebook Spaces and other VR technologies will only ever be able to augment an institution’s ability to serve students, not replace it.


I am optimistic about the possibilities for engagement in online education as we look to technology to fill the gaps in real-time communication. Platforms like Google Hangouts and Skype are often encouraged to create opportunities for distance learners to engage in real-time interaction, but the exciting thing about VR is that it has the potential to bring an immersive, physical dimension to educational experiences, both in and out of the classroom, to those nontraditional students with decreased abilities to attend on-campus classes and events.


So yes, you have taken the huge step into VR!




Okay, so NOW you've got my interest peaked.  I went over to the Facbook Space website and registered.  I can definitely see how this could be very cool for virtual office hours and for non-traditional students.  I'll have to play around with this a bit more. Looks like you need to buy an Oculus Rift headset (not too expensive at $100) and of course you'd have to have students who also had this headset.  Have you yourself tried this out either for fun or for educational purposes?





It reminds me of second life....:)