Why not Virtual Reality?: The Barriers of Using Virtual Reality in Education
Naglaa Ali, Richard Ferdig, University Of Florida, United States
Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference, in Nashville, Tennessee, USA ISBN 978-1-880094-44-0 Publisher: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), Chesapeake, VA
Why not Virtual Reality?: The Barriers of Using Virtual Reality in Education Abstract: In the near future, distance education has the potential not only to more effectively deliver instruction than is done today, but also to bring people more closely together than traditional classroom education (VanderVen, 1994). Virtual Reality (VR) brings to distance education exciting possibilities that were once considered science fiction (Rigole, 1996). It has been used for years in military, government, medicine, psychology, industry, and networked entertainment programs, but it is fairly a new concept in education (Montfort, 2000). This paper explores various aspects of Virtual Reality including its definition, inception, current capabilities and future possibilities. This paper will also describe barriers of using VR in education and suggest new ways for integrating VR into teaching and learning. First, the paper will define the concept of Virtual Reality and its different types. In order to understand the implications of this technology, one must first understand the concept. Second the paper will address the benefits of using VR. It will then describe what makes a good virtual environment, what prevents teachers from using this technology in their classrooms, and what recommendations exist for facilitating VR in classrooms. Finally, an example from education will be described highlighting the use of VR in teaching and learning. Virtual Reality (VR) can be described as a multi-sensory highly interactive computer based environment, where the user becomes an active participant in a virtually real world. Freedom of navigation and interaction are essential for a computer environment to be characterized, as a VR environment system must offer an extension of our normal experiences, thus allowing as many degrees of freedom as possible to perform a given task (Whitelock, 2000). There are many types of VR systems, which are generally classified according to the types of technology employed to implement the system. Those systems include simulators and emulators, telepresence systems, CAVE systems, fully immersive systems, augmented systems and desktop and Internet VR systems (text-based VR and graphic- based VR). Depending on the level of the user's participation and interaction with the virtual environment, VR applications are also subdivided into passive (learners have minimal control over the training event), explorative (enables students to explore and construct their own learning) or interactive environments (allows the learners to immerse themselves in the subject matter)(Whitelock, 2000). For purposes of this paper, the definition of VR is limited to the desktop and Internet graphic based VR. There are two types of desktop and Internet graphic-based VR: 1) VRML: (Virtual Reality Modeling Language) is a language for describing three-dimensional (3-D) image sequences and possible user interactions to go with them. Using VRML, you can build a sequence of visual images into Web settings with which a user can interact by viewing, moving, rotating, and otherwise interacting with an apparently 3-D scene. For example, you can view a room and use controls to move the room, as you would experience it if you were walking through it in real space. Here are some websites that can give you more clear ideas about VRML while exploring some environments by yourself: · http://caad.arch.ethz.ch/~dave/heritage/world.wrl · http://www.finearts.art.vcu.edu/VRML/vrmlaniintro.html 2) QTVR: QuickTime Virtual Reality (QTVR) is an Apple technology that allows users to explore virtual reality. QTVR developers can create and display 360-degree views of objects or panoramic scenes that can be manipulated and navigated. With this technology, it is possible for teachers and students to share classroom projects that others can rotate and examine. It is also possible for users to look at various environments (a classroom, a different country, outer space, etc.) without the need to actually be there. Check theses website for more clear idea about the QTVR concept. o http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/commons/skullvr/background.html o http://www.terraquest.com/galapagos Both types are important in education and serve as powerful tools in teaching and learning. Using the capabilities of VR technology allows people to expand their perception of the real world in ways that were previously impossible (McLellan, 1998). This power of VR technology provides several possible ways in which it can facilitate learning. It allows students to (Whitelock, 2000): · Visualize abstract concepts. · Observe events at atomic or planetary scales. · Visit environment and interact with events that distance, time or safety factors make unavailable. · Master, retain, and generalize new knowledge when they are actively involved in constructing that knowledge in learning by doing situation. · Develop participatory environments and activities that can only exist as computer generated worlds (things and places with altered qualities). · Interact with a model that is as motivating or more motivating than interacting with a real thing. With all the benefits of VR technology, still there is not a lot of classroom use. Busy classroom teachers do not want another instructional tool forced on them without appropriate provisions for training, preparation, implementation, and so forth (Auld, 1999). Teachers must understand the VR implications, and formulate a vision of where they want to go with it to enrich their own curriculum and their students' learning. School administrators must figure out the optimal application of virtual reality for each situation, while at the same time not falling into the trap of buying new technology for the sake of having new technology. Full of promise and excitement, using virtual reality in schools is a great challenge, but one that must be pursued (Sykes, 1999). Even though teachers and administrators should learn the value of VR in classrooms, there are many reasons that limited the use of it: Ø Teachers do not know how to implement the VR applications in their classrooms. Ø The considerable gulf between educators and those who create the software and hardware they use. Ø The cost of the VR hardware and software. Ø The shortage of training workshops that train teachers how to create and use the new technologies in their classrooms. Although these reasons are limiting the use of Virtual Reality in the classrooms, they are not impossible to overcome. Creating a simple VR environment is not a hard job. To create a VR environment: 1) Teachers must know what make a good virtual environment. A good Virtual Reality environment, is the environment that can (Follows, 1999): · Provide the learner with a reason to learn. · Provide the learner with context for the learning process to take place. · Allow the learner to control the learning process. · Develop the learner's ability to solve high-level problems. · Make learning a personal experience for the learner. · Model the complexities and uncertainty of working in the real world. · Accommodate a wide range of learning styles. 2) Select between the available types of VR systems that match their needs and capabilities and have a good impact in teaching and learning. There are many ways that a teacher can use to build a VR environment without the need of the expensive hardware and software. One of these ways is Using QTVR. QTVR software allows teachers and students to construct three-dimensional representations of objects from two-dimensional photographs. QTVR is a wide reaching educational tool that can be used not only in a large variety of locations, but also in a large variety of situations to attain multiple educational goals. Teachers can create their own VR environments that match the objectives, the curriculum, and their students' learning styles. Teachers can create these VR environments with their students. In this case the students can learn while engaging in the developing process. Educational Technology Department at University of Florida Virtual Visit as an example of using Virtual Reality in classrooms: I create an online source for students, faculty, and visitors, on the Educational Technology Department. The goal is to create an interactive web site that would allow the user to view the department, and get information about it. One of the unique features of the virtual visit is the use of VR. Throughout a map, the user can click a VR location and explore it. Motivation and learner interest increase using realistic, navigable VR environments. The low cost of creation and playback, as well as the broad installed user base of quick time, makes video-based QTVR technology a reasonable choice for education and training materials (Mohler, 2000). References: 1. Auld, L. P., Veronica S. (1999). VIRTUAL reality. T H E Journal, 27(4), 48 - 54. 2. Follows, S. B. (1999). Virtual Learning Environments. T H E Journal, 27(4). 3. Mohler, J. L. (2000). Desktop Virtual Reality for the enhancement of visualization skills. Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia, 9(2), 151-165. 4. McLellan, H. (1998). Cognitive issues in virtual reality. Journal of Visual literacy, 18(2), 175-199. 5. Montfort, N. (2000). Brain Gain: High-tech Horns in on Traditional Education. So Much for Tenure. (Technology Information). Ziff Davis Smart Business For the new Economy, 64. 6. Rigole, N. (1996). Virtual Reality: What VRML Has To Offer Distance Education. http://www.mindspring.com/~rigole/vr.htm. 7. Sykes, W. R., Robert D. (1999). Virtual Reality In Schools: The Ultimate Educational Technology. T H E Journal, 26(7), 61-64. 8. VnderVen, K. (1994). VIEWPOINT from your Advisory Board. http://www.fcae.nova.edu/disted/spring94/viewpoin.html. 9. Whitelock, D. (2000). Education and Information Technologies. Official Journal of the IFIP Technical Committee on Education, (5)(4).
Ali, N. & Ferdig, R. (2002). Why not Virtual Reality?: The Barriers of Using Virtual Reality in Education. In D. Willis, J. Price & N. Davis (Eds.), Proceedings of SITE 2002--Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference (pp. 1119-1120). Nashville, Tennessee, USA: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE).