Virtual reality (VR) – immersive computer-generated environments that simulate the physical presence of people and objects using realistic sensory experiences – will revolutionize education because it addresses three distinct gaps in the classroom: the attention gap (by creating engaging environments); the relevancy gap (by providing training for real- life situations); and, the pedagogy gap (by enabling learning in naturalist settings). Because VR is at the cutting edge of education, best production and use practices are yet to emerge. Using a newly created VR lab, this project created a proof-of-concept model for how faculty and students across disciplines as well as instructional technologists could collaborate for producing VR projects. The pilot project, called Project Ambrosia, was a VR-based archeological educational game whose concept was designed by two faculty from Anthropology. The development team included a project manager and an instructional technologist from Academic Technologies & Innovation; seven faculty from Anthropology, Communication Studies, Computer Sciences, Graphic Design and Theater Arts; and five students. The purpose of the module was twofold:
- Allow students to experience archeological eldwalking in a naturalistic setting
- Recognize archeological artifacts and make inferences about the activities that produced them
This project provided not only a new, engaging and pedagogically sophisticated experience for students, but also important information on robust collaborative models, implementation and scaling challenges, accessibility requirements, and learning impact.
Mihaela Popescu, Cal State San Bernardino