2016 is shaping up to be a significant year for Virtual Reality (VR). A plethora of devices, applications and content will be added to newly released VR platforms such as Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear VR, Sony Playstation VR, HTC Vive and Google cardboard.
Reports from mainstays like Fortune magazine, BBC , Guardian are asking if 2016 is the beginning of widespread use of Virtual Reality technologies. I believe that VR is about to cross into broader use where experiential learning and educational content are two domains that will benefit.
Virtual reality is a technology that replicates an environment, real or imagined, and simulates a user's physical presence and environment in a way that allows the user to interact with it. Virtual realities create sensory experiences, which can include sight, touch, hearing, and smell.
Higher Education will be a beneficiary of this technology both in creating and using it as a learning tool. Although early days, clear benefit arises from understanding and embracing Virtual Reality at the right time, starting now.
This paper gives a glimpse of demonstrations and current events indicating the growing use and interest in VR technology use.
Sydney's Powerhouse museum recently introduced the immersive experience of David Attenborough's exploration of the Great Barrier Reef via VR headsets - David Attenborough's Virtual Reality Experiences official trailer
UNSW Business School has used the interest in VR to provide a tour for prospective students through their flip classroom Apple store application: UNSW Business Classroom Application
Figure 1: Screen shot from UNSW Business School virtual tour application
The uses for VR within the learning environment are extensive; recent examples include:
Check the availability of primary online services such as myUNSW, Blackboard etc