Virtual Reality (VR) is still in its early stages but it already has attracted quite a lot of interest. Naturally VR has been introduced as a new way for digital entertainment and gaming, but it also has quite a lot of other uses – amongst them is that it can be a great platform for e-learning.
LearnBrite, a division of 3D entertainment and e-learning company ExitReality Inc. is currently developing such a VR platform for e-learning, the company has announced. The project is being worked on in collaboration with the Australian Curtin University and is focused on developing VR simulations for medical students, caregivers and healthcare professionals.
“The concept of using virtual reality to teach and assess a student’s ability to examine a patient and arrive at a diagnosis or problem list has great potential as a teaching tool at the early stages of their education since interaction with a live patient may not always be possible,” said Dr. Ah-Cheng Goh, keynote for the world congress and founding president of the International Society for Electrophysical Agents in Physical Therapy.
The platform will allow for so-called tailor made versions, which can be customized in accordance with the needs of the clients. It is a simulator that places students and caregivers of elderly patients in unexpected and realistic situations to teach them to react quickly and properly.
Amongst the added benefits of a VR E-learning platform is that the teachers will have an even broader and deeper options to assess the students. They can assess the student’s character, personality and levels of empathy. This facilitates better placement and guidance of the student with positions and jobs that suit them.
Furthermore, the platform’s training and assessment capabilities eliminate the ‘one size-fits all’ traditional online courses where students click the ‘Next’ button to view slides of information followed by a quiz. By doing this it saves universities and companies tens of thousands of dollars, every year in on-the-spot training, achieving better results.
The platform is based on Oculus VR’s headset Oculus Rift which is using specially developed software by LearnBrite and Curtin. “The graphics were impressive and the controls were intuitive and responsive,” said Dr. Goh when using the experience on an iPhone 6. The custom HTML5 and WebGL solution created by LearnBrite allows virtual reality experiences to be delivered through the world leading Moodle learning system to any device from smartphone to the Oculus headset. The platform already supports Google Cardboard, Samsung Gear VR and Oculus Rift with plans to support the Valve/HTC Vive, Sony Morpheus and Microsoft Hololens.
VR is slowly making its way towards education. Speaking of Google Cardboard, the internet giant recently unveiled its new project Cardboard Expeditions which allows teachers to take students on VR trips around the world to explore the planet and even beyond it as there is a VR tour of Mars.
All of this is simply scratching the surface on what is possible with VR for E-Learning. Such technologies can be adapted and customized for various other educational goals from basic visualizing of a circuit board or a computer and learning how it works to realistic and broad science projects. The future for e-learning certainly looks quite interesting, although it will take a little more time until the technology is mature and affordable enough to be accessible to a broader audience.