Benefits and Examples of Virtual Reality in Higher Education

Virtual reality is about creating experiences. Within higher education, those experiences can have the goal of increasing student engagement with areas of study, improving their learning outcomes and attracting prospective students to your school.

Virtual reality solutions can do more than distinguish your college or university from those who don’t have the technology. They help you keep pace with those who do and with current teaching practices. Research firm Gartner predicts that by 2021, 60% of U.S. higher-education institutions will use virtual reality systems to create simulation and learning environments. The barriers to implementing the technology fall away as the experience improves (better visual acuity and responsiveness) and prices come down,

If your department or your school has been on the fence about adding virtual reality resources to its toolkit, consider the possible applications and how they’ve been successfully implemented:

  • Recruiting students — As I noted in this post on higher ed and workforce development, some schools are using virtual reality technology to immerse prospective students in environments where they can learn and train. They also enable them to take virtual campus tours from the comfort of their home or at college fairs.
  • Preparing students for their careers — Plenty of schools — including the University of Toledo and the University of Nebraska — are using virtual reality in inspiring ways. These institutions are using virtual reality and advanced visualization to help train their medical students in safe environments. AVI-SPL played a significant role in implementing the virtual reality and visualization technology for the University of Nebraska’s iEXCEL program for healthcare education. It’s also helping the school’s medical center track human simulator data so that medical trainers understand student performance during simulation-based instruction. The same team that worked with Nebraska implemented similar solutions for the University of Toledo Interprofessional Immersive Simulation Center.
  • Creating engaging education programs — There’s an application for virtual reality in many fields of study, including aerospace, architecture, biology, history, mathematics, and medicine. Learners move through and interact with environments like ancient ruins and cities, crime scenes, molecules, engineering structures, and scientific data. For the instructors, the benefits include another way to evaluate learners in competency-based simulations. At Rice University, users of the DaVinci virtual environment can walk amidst seismic data that influences drilling and acquisition decisions for the oil and gas industry.

Getting Comfortable With Virtual Reality

Understand how virtual reality is successfully being used in higher education, and you’ll have realistic expectations of what it can do to advance your program or department’s goals. I’ve included a handful of resources to help you build that confidence.

  • “Virtual Reality in Higher Education: Q&A” — Jim Angelillo, AVI-SPL VP of enterprise business development, explains the benefits of virtual reality, refers to use cases and explains AVI-SPL’s value as a partner that designs and implements these solutions.
  • “Preparing Professionals With Advanced Visualization: Q&A” — Bill Schmidt, AVI-SPL sales director, answers questions about a topic close to virtual reality: advanced visualization. He addresses the technology involved and the process of designing and building the systems.
  • “Visualization and Simulation for Research and Collaboration” — This AVI-SPL tech paper explains the value of virtual environments, and how to choose the right visualization or simulation system. It also looks at North Carolina State University and the visualization and simulation solutions that AVI-SPL implemented to improve the school’s ability to conduct research and collaborate with outside partners (including the U.S. Navy).

Work With an Expert in Virtual Reality Outcomes

AVI-SPL has teams who are dedicated to analyzing your goals when it comes to using virtual reality systems, and designing and implementing systems that will meet those goals. Share your questions and ambitions with our experts.

 

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