VR in Higher Education


The purpose of this chapter is to examine VR within education to assess the impact of its ability to apply instructional design principles in the context of virtual reality technology-based instruction. VR can improve learning outcomes from enhancing learning activities to supporting simulation studies and encourage feedback educational tasks. Learner performance will be improved when the gameplay is mapped to gamification and group-based challenges. Due to the diversity of VR, individuals are supported through the educational life cycle via sensory stimuli to improve and enhance cognitive development. Research has shown that VR has changed individual attitudes, cultural beliefs, and context when exploring the new innovative characteristics of these new devices. Virtual reality can enhance and replace reality with digital objects so that learners can instantly enjoy various activities, which make a positive outcome.
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Virtual Reality (VR) has been around in some form since Plato (428/7-347 B.C.) and 'allegory of the cave' (Ambient, 2011) to the first Panoramic painting coined by Irish Painter Robert Barker in 1792. These Panoramic painting offered a 360-degree panorama filling the viewer's field of vision (Grau, 2003; Ellis, 2008). These artists focused on exploring aspects of sensory while using three-dimensional dwelling of scenes within a two-dimensional view (Crary, 2002). Another significant panoramic painting of that time was the Battle of Waterloo (1815), which was used to express artistic visual experience while representing the reality of the landscape and the war itself (Benosman & Kang, 2001). As Robey, (2014) indicates, the Panoramic painting exhibition “possesses so much of the magic deceptions of the art, as irresistibly to captivate all” (Robey, 2014). VR strives to do today, to irresistibly captivate and immerse the end user. These early VR attempts seen from the early days of electronic head-mounted displays used to assist in flight simulators at Wright-Patterson Air Force (Pantelidis, 2010) to “psychotherapeutic applications, Combat and Peacekeeping Operations in Relation to Prevalence of Mental Disorders, Military Medicine” (Bouchard, Guitard, Bernier, & Robillard, 2011). Psotka, (2013) and Suchman, (2016) have indicated that the Military developed Joint Fires and Effects Trainer System (JFETS) system enabling individuals to train in a Theater immersion environment. Through this ability of theater immersive and captive technology, three different kinds of VR explored: non-immersive, semi-immersive, and immersive.

In non-immersive VR, the user will experience the platform through the use of a VDU (Screen), and will not fully immerse themselves within the field of view (FOV). Whereas, semi-immersive VR is focused on the use of tools, like Microsoft Kinect One/V2 (Ferrari et al. 2014) or even PS4 Camera, too, for example, offer the player the ability to facilitate avoidance within a collision, or use their own body to collect coins, etc. As noted by Leibe et al. (2000), with controllers going wireless and the interface between the virtual world, the player can have a more personalized semi-immersive interaction. This technology would mean that the environment would offer tracking, 3d interaction, either through gloves, gestures, and untethered natural body movements without restrictions. Huygelier, Schraepen, van Ee, Abeele, & Gillebert, (2019) suggested that the use of VR, either Semi or Non-Immersive, can assist in sensory stimuli to improve and enhance cognitive development. The final category of VR is fully immersive, where the end-user uses a head-mounted device to optimize the environment so that the application can be accepted. This approach can be anything from setting up a range of physical tasks within engineering/science (Davidson et al. 2019), interactive games (Jacobson, Le Renard, Lugrin, & Cavazza, 2005; Pallavicini, Pepe, & Minissi, 2019), educational studies (Greffou, Bertone, Hanssens, & Faubert, (2008), medical simulations (Kilmon, Brown, Ghosh, & Mikitiuk, 2010) to Military.

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