Jules Says . . .
Education technology expert, Maddy Kadish, stopped by our virtual office the other day with a spot-on and timely post on Virtual Reality. Settle back and let Maddy tell you what’s on the horizon with VR and the implications for educators. Here is her post, which grew out of her presentation with Neil Kendricks at Sundance this past January.
(On a personal note, as Maddy’s former professor, I am so proud of her smarts and all she has accomplished.)
Much has been made of the promise of virtual reality (VR) as the newest “new media” and its potential in the classroom. VR is a computer-generated reality -- users don headsets for a 360-degree immersive user experience putting the user in the middle of an environment, real or imagined, with which they can interact. On Monday, March 28th, Oculus, a VR company that Facebook bought in 2014, released the first consumer version of its VR system, called Oculus Rift. HTC and Sony plan to release similar products later in the year. Although VR is still a burgeoning field, it is poised to have a big impact on learning. A survey conducted by TES Global in January and February 2016, reported that 10% of teachers would most like to see virtual or augmented reality headsets in the classroom, a 5% increase from last year. The survey represents the opinions of nearly 1,000 American teachers on technology.
Sundance Film Festival, the largest and probably best-known film festival in the US, featured VR technology prominently in the festival’s future of film section, called New Frontier, in 2015 and 2016. In 2016, New Frontier’s 10th year in the festival, VR exhibits immersed viewers in imaginary dreamscapes, gritty scenarios, and simulated environments. Neil Kendricks and I explored some of these artist visions at Sundance in January 2016, as originally reported in The Independent.
In the Eyes of the Animal
In the Eyes of the Animal, by a production company called Marshmallow Laser Feast, artistically depicts the point of view of various animals – a mosquito, a dragonfly, a frog, and an owl - traveling through the forest.
The work is based on aerial 360° drone filming and
remote sensing technology recorded in Grizedale Forest,
in the Lake District in England. It originally exhibited in a forest in Yorkshire, England, where users sat on tree stumps to experience the virtual reality of life in the forest.
Each section is dominated by a new color to indicate a new animal. The 9-minute VR experience includes a vibrating pack that users wear for a new dimension to the journey.
Watch the In the Eyes of the Animal teaser below.
A History of Cuban Dance
The VR piece A History of Cuban Dance, from documentary filmmaker Lucy Walker, immerses users in a virtual 360-degree environment filmed on location in Havana, Cuba with a sample of distinctly Cuban dance styles ranging from Rumba, Salsa and the Mambo to more contemporary trends like Reggaeton.
Throughout A History of Cuban Dance, the voiceover narration provides context as viewers find themselves in the middle of a series of spontaneous dance performances. The piece, approximately 7 minutes long, sustains the illusion of dancers moving around the user, as it moves from one location to the next. We jump from a circle of young dancers in the streets to couples finding a groove on a rooftop at dusk to riding in a vintage automobile along the streets of Havana.
Job Simulator, from artists Devin Reimer and Alex Schwartz, with the tone of the movie Office Space and graphics stylized like MTV in the 80s, immerses users into the world of 2050. After pulling on the VR goggles, users see their hands – as white thick gloves – in the VR environment and use them to interact with this new (and imaginary) world – interacting with robots as their bosses. I made coffee, logged into my computer, threw a paper airplane over the cubicle at a colleague. My robotic boss walked over and told me that I needed to work over the weekend. Job Simulator‘s interactivity adapts as each unique user interacts with it. The humor and unpredictability bring levity and fun to the VR environment.
Most consumer versions of VR headsets, similar to that of Oculus Rift, are still in Beta, including Google Cardboard, a virtual reality viewer made of cardboard fashioned around a smartphone with a VR-enabled app. Google's Expeditions Pioneer Program, a pilot program for students and teachers in schools around the world, brings the field trip to the student though Google Cardboard and virtual reality. According to an article in eSchool News, over half a million students have tested it since September 2015.
Lingoland is another example of early VR technology in the direct hands of consumers. The startup company utilizes Google Cardboard to immerse language students in 3D scenes to practice a foreign language and learn about culture. Users can experience ordering at a restaurant in Spain, for instance, in a virtual environment before their trip. Lingoland CEO, Tony Diependbrock IV estimates that almost 1,000 people have signed up as beta testers with 40 people using the system daily.
VR technology may have a long way to go before being fully embraced by consumers, but its possibilities for learning – whether used to simulate a new situation, environment, or technique - are endless.
Click here for the other sources Maddy drew from in writing this post.
Want to hear more from Maddy? Follow her on Twitter and check out her website.
Let us know about your experiences with virtual reality
and your predictions for its future in the classroom!
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