Virtual Reality Considerations for Curriculum Development and Online Instruction

Virtual Reality Considerations for Curriculum Development and Online Instruction

Andrew C. Lawlor, Cassandra Smith, Patricia Steele, Elizabeth Anne Johnston, Sonja M. Lamppa
Copyright: © 2021 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-7653-3.ch002
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For virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality (MR) to become effective learning modalities, they must be considered in the context of experiential or constructivist learning which could disrupt traditional instructional and educational practices given their interactive quality. How might educators assess these applications and their implementation to determine their learning potential for online instruction? By applying the studio thinking framework (STF) and the presence pedagogy (P2) model, unique insights may be gained in terms of virtual reality's value to the learning process. Current research shows many similarities between the skills taught in studio art classes and opportunities to learn the same skills in virtual educational applications, while the P2 model has demonstrated its effectiveness in applying pedagogical strategies to collaborative VR environments. Tactics to prepare, apply, assess, and evaluate (PAAE) this technology in educational programs for teachers and school leaders provide a guide for implementation.
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Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and Mixed Reality (MR) bring unique values to the educational experience. Furthermore, little information exists about the online potential for VR/AR/MR in the educational context (Philippe, et al., 2020). In this chapter, the researchers will include information defining and placing the new technological possibilities in the context of experiential or constructivist learning, and its related online potential. While VR educational applications could disrupt traditional instructional and curricular practices and transform teaching and learning, we know little about the pedagogies of VR educational applications. The research question posited by the researchers is: How might educators assess VR/AR/MR applications and their implementation in an educational environment to determine their learning potential for online instruction? Insights into how to understand and assess the learning value of VR/AR/MR applications will draw on the Studio Thinking Framework (STF), a model of visual learning that includes the hidden second curriculum in studio art classrooms as identified by Hetland et al., (2019) and Winner et al., (2013a) and the concept of Presence Pedagogy (Bronack, et al., 2008; Juma et al., 2017).

In the STF, the critique of studio artwork by students follows an established pattern involving visual elements such as observation, envisioning, and identifying improvements to non-working elements in their work (Winner et al., 2013b). Other components include ways to explore alternatives and reflect and assess the process employed by the students as well as the product of their work. Applying the STF during an analysis aided in developing insights into potential educational benefits from immersion in VR that might not display in a formal syllabus because VR applications are primarily visual and interactive. Recognition of the virtual environment potential will lead to an informed understanding of VR/AR/MR for teachers. Presence Pedagogy refers to providing a community of practice that relies on presence and social learning. VR applications offer a new visual context for learning. In the late 20th century, decentralized online education powered by technology was a disruptive innovation (Bergeron & Fornero, 2018; Psotka, 2013). The new decentralized learning opportunities remained primarily text based because computers were much less powerful. During the 21st century and beyond, technology does not restrict learning to text but could include a plethora of visual and sensory options available at decentralized locations (Romli et al., 2020; Thomas and Brown, 2011). VR as technology replaces the user’s view by immersing the user in a simulated environment and stimulates the user’s senses, such as vision, hearing, touch, and even smell (Farshid et al., 2018; Jackson, 2015). Hence, the user is immersed in the experience. Using a computer and the proper platform gives the user access to this type of reality, thereby allowing the user to gain a new digital and interactive experience. Understanding the various forms of VR technology to deliver educational content is critical to integrate and align the technology to learning practices. Before attempting to implement VR technology into the curriculum, educators and researchers should gain a high-level understanding of the technology on the market today including Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and Mixed Reality (MR).

This chapter will provide ways for educators to assess VR/AR/MR applications and their implementation in an educational environment to determine their learning potential for online instruction. With regards to curriculum development, the researchers have provided strategies to prepare, apply, assess, and evaluate this technology for educational programs, which may be of value to teachers, curricular administrators, and other school leaders. The following topics are addressed in support of the notion that Virtual Reality for education demands a consideration of pedagogy: Background; Applying Virtual Reality to Online Learning, The Studio Thinking Framework (STF), Integrating VR into the Curricula, The Prepare, Apply, Assess, Evaluate (PAAE) Cycle, Barriers to Adoption, Solutions and Recommendations, and Future Research Directions. Unless otherwise noted, the discussion focuses on Virtual Reality, or VR as the overall concept, rather than distinguishing between it and the related forms of AR or MR.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Virtual Reality (VR): A simulated environment whereby a user’s view is facilitated through technology, presenting, and interacting in the environment through the user’s senses in such a way that they are immersed in the experience.

Augmented Reality (AR): An overlay of a virtual reality experience with the real world by simulating artificial objects in a real environment.

Online Virtual Reality (OVR): A form of VR incorporating interactions in the virtual environment with other individuals in a synchronous format, simulating the essence of a unique interaction in reality to that virtual environment.

Mixed Reality (MR): A combination of virtual reality and augmented reality enabling the user to navigate between both realities simultaneously.

Collaborative Virtual Reality (CVR): A type of Collaborative Virtual Environment using Virtual Reality to represent the environment.

Collaborative Virtual Environment (CVE): A digital representation of the physical world in which interaction with other individuals, usually in the form of avatars, occurs.

Presence Pedagogy (P2): A means of teaching and learning within a community of scholars, both students and instructors, which rely on the interaction of community members to construct shared understanding and knowledge. The P2 model was developed as a framework for creating an effective way of teaching and learning in an online format.

Studio Thinking Framework (STF): A methodology used in the visual arts to critically examine art from a variety of perspectives to enable the creator to learn from the experience and grow as an artist.

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