Is Virtual Reality For Everyone?

Posted in Blog on 13 August 2015

In late April, a number of high school and college students, in conjunction with the Immersive Education Initiative (iED) and the National Park Service, created a 3D version of Bent’s Old Fort along the Santa Fe Trail in Colorado.

The fully immersive, 3D virtual reality environment will be made available to other institutions and clubs throughout the world, allowing more professors and students to experience firsthand interactions with the fort.

The building of the immersive environment was a transformative teaching and learning experience, says Aaron E. Walsh, iED’s founding director. “As we used to build dioramas in school, when you’re building something like this, you’re putting down neural pathways in the brain,” he says. “You can remember what you’re learning much better.”

Overcoming the Diminishing Cost Hurdle

There are a number of reasons why virtual reality finally has begun taking hold in education. The first is purely tactical: Companies such as Caterpillar, General Motors and Ford have used VR technology in the workplace to train their staffs, says Marcus Noel, developer liaison and ConnectED fellow in the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology.

“If we are, as educators, preparing students for the real world, it’s only likely that the same adoptive measures happen,” Noel says.

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