In teaching, we love our technological toys. Well, in truth, we love the idea of technology, and wish we had the budgets to indulge our ideas and play with the toys available to the corporate world. Our reality is that we are limited by funding constraints and do not generally have access to newest and best tech toys. So why am I talking about VR and education you may ask? I believe that VR is going to change the face of education. Not now, but in a future that is not too distant. VR comes in a variety of forms, many of which are accessible to schools and teachers within are constraints. So onto defining VR.
The best place to start when discussing VR is to first define what VR is. VR is an acronym for virtual reality, but beyond that the definition becomes very convoluted. Some define VR as “the use of computer technology to create a simulated environment. Unlike traditional user interfaces, VR places the user inside an experience. Instead of viewing a screen in front of them, users are immersed and able to interact with 3D worlds.” Dr Brian Jackson on What is Virtual Reality? [Definition and Examples]. Others, like the Virtual Reality Society define it as something that “entails presenting our senses with a computer generated virtual environment that we can explore in some fashion”. These are but two examples of definitions for VR that are out there, as many different versions are available across the web.
A few commonalities come out of the collective maelstrom though;
- VR uses computer technology
- VR immerses users in an artificial environment
- VR allows for users to interact with the environment
These three characteristics, in my humble opinion, are the essentials of what is virtual reality is. It is a computer generated environment that allows user to interact with it. This definition strips away many of the complexities in the debate around “what is VR”, creating a simple definition that feels more workable, especially in an educational context.