Roomscale Virtual Reality is extremely powerful for educational use, but most of the teachers and other stakeholders are still far from making use of it’s actual potential.
We wanted to change that and our story goes like this:
In February and March 2018, we welcomed stakeholders from the educational sector in our custom-built VR Experience Room located in shopping space at Wilmersdorfer Arcaden — a shopping mall in West Berlin. The experience room was originally designed for showcasing VR on a daily basis and for dedicated events within the project #Artcaden. We’ve always been eager to make VR more accessible and therefore were keen on sharing our experiences with curious and interested professionals and wanted them to really see the impact of VR technology in the realm of socially conscious projects.
We organized workshops to promote the technology and as a case study did research on how to integrate VR into teaching and overall educational methods. From companies, teachers, youth clubs to whole classes — the Experience Room was packed for two months.
As a result we decided to take another step towards incorporating VR in the educational sector. Together with biology teacher Christopher Rosse from ‘Meine-Schule-Berlin’ and Katja Loddo from ‘Cornelsen’ we developed a pilot lesson in VR that makes it easier for students to learn about the digestive organs in the human body.
For the app ‘Anatomy VR’ teaching material for partner work has been developed including a VR setup within the classroom itself. Since the app is designed more as a tool than an independent teaching module, we made sure that the VR lesson smoothly integrated into the actual curriculum.
Mr. Rosse evaluated the VR lessons as highly effective as he had the feeling that the knowledge was better understood and contextualized by his students. He liked the playful way to convey complex information, which again helped the students to memorize and actively make use of the information more effectively. The student’s feedback was unanimously positive.
This gave us enough drive and confidence to take a swing at an even bigger audience and spread the idea of VR for educational purposes even further.
We set up an information point at the biggest youth convention in Europe ‘YOU’ in Berlin, showcasing various educational apps as well as holding a survey — with the Vive Pro and Vive Focus ready for action, (friendly provided by ‘Vive’, thanks guys!).
In addition, we ran an informational program for visitors — together with Jana Kunze — a media didactics expert from the educational publisher ‘Cornelsen’ and two teachers from our workshops.
We find the following summarized results from our survey and discussions with stakeholders the most interesting:
1|Which properties are the most important to use VR in daily school life?
It should be easy to use and fast to set up, be multiplayer capable and compatible with smartboards and tablets.
2|How often would you use VR in daily school life?
VR is imagined to be used several times a month, at least as an intro or closing of a theoretical module for practically deepening the knowledge.
3|Where do you imagine VR to take place?
Most of the teachers imagined VR to take place in a school VR-Room, similar to computer rooms.
4|What kind of apps you would need to use VR in daily school life?
Apps are needed, that allow to tailor the learning material to the needs of the class and the curriculum — so tools are more useful than specified content.
These four points are crucial to us, because they clearly indicate a strong need and willingness to actively integrate VR applications into the current curriculum. We’re thrilled that educators share our passion about VR and do see the big potentials it has in store — for teachers and students alike.
Nevertheless, we also learned about a lot of obstacles for VR to be fully integrated into daily school life:
1 | Tight Schedule
Teachers in Germany are working on a very tight schedule, making them inflexible to invest a lot of time into different forms of teaching. They need tools and content in VR that smoothly integrates into their curriculum.
2 | High Investment
Most schools are not capable to invest in VR and have other priorities. Also the technology has very fast innovation circles that the schools can only rarely keep up with.
3 | Lack of Knowledge
A high effort has to be made to communicate with all involved with paying high attention on the different levels of knowledge about the technology. In particular communicating with worried parents, who might be fearing VR could harm their children longterm, is a responsible task.
From our point of view, we believe that there is still a long way to go and a lot of development to be done before VR can be fully integrated into school and the educational sector as a whole — we just did the first steps by informing and providing hands-on experiences. Definitely, VR-devices like the Vive Focus, who make roomscale VR more accessible, are major steps in the right direction.
Our thesis is that dedicated Edu-Rooms — like VR Arcades for education — in malls, libraries or other public spaces can be a good starting point for all and not just for schools:
1|Low financial risk & technical assistance
The potential users of educational VR rooms can discover new ways of teaching and learning without high financial investment and provided technical assistance.
2|Fast feedback for developer
The content developers can test and iterate more often to better target the users needs and generate precise applications for the use of professional training.
Companies and vocational schools could use VR-Rooms to train their employees, apprentices or teaching staff and run through various example cases.
4|Enriching public spaces
The public spaces could enrich their range with Virtual Reality and thus attract a larger number of visitors.
5|Accessibility & Popularity
Learning and training applications would become more accessible and popular.
We hope our results are and will be helpful to everyone, who is thinking about venturing into the educational sector with VR technologies.
If you liked our findings or found them useful in a way or the other, we’d love to hear from you. Also do not hesitate to contact us for more detailed insights:
We would like to thank everyone who’s supported our company on this field trip — we wouldn’t have done it without you!
Berlin Art Bang e.V. — Kimo von Rekowski
Wilmersdorfer Arcaden (URW) — Viola Molzen
Meine-Schule-Berlin — Christopher Rosse
Lise-Meitner-Schule — Ulrike Kramann
Cornelsen — Jana Kunze, Katja Loddo & Dr. Susanne Rupp
Die Grünen — Notker Schweikhardt
YOU Convention — Daniel Barkowksi & Aileen Karle
HTC Vive — Oliver Wöhler