Measuring the Power of VR Education: When VR Classroom Needs EEG and Eye-tracking Technology

Since Mark Zuckerberg opened Facebook’s door for Oculus’ VR technology, there has been a growing trend for the use of VR for business for the last couple of years, including learning.

Recently, Oculus Education announced to support several research institutions including Cornell, MIT, and Yale in order to better understand how VR can have the greatest impact on learning outcomes. In particular, the Oculus Education team sponsors new research that pinpoints and maximizes VR’s educational potential by investigating which properties of VR may have the greatest impact on learning, under which conditions, and in what subject matters and environments across academia, secondary and university-level education, life-long learning, etc.

Image Credit: Yale Center for Health & Learning Games

As a kickoff research, play4REAL, a new lab at Yale’s Center for Health & Learning Games, will develop and test VR games for health education and behavioral intervention used to investigate VR’s ability to influence the perception and experience of peer pressure and development of social norms in adolescents and young adults. MIT will develop, pilot, test, and evaluate a proof-of-concept multiplayer VR experience for high school students to understand the impact of VR in hands-on learning. Cornell’s Virtual Embodiment Lab will measure conceptual understanding, attitudes, and motivation while comparing the effectiveness of learning activities through table-top activities, computer simulations, and immersive, hands-on simulation in VR.

Image Credit: http://www.apps4oculus.com/vr-a-revolution-in-field-of-education/

While statistics on VR in K-12 schools and colleges have yet to be gathered, the steady growth of the market is reflected that education is one of the most exciting use cases for this emerging technology because VR is a useful tool to certainly add a reality to the hard sciences — biology, anatomy, geology and astronomy compared with traditional education. According to Jeremy Bailenson, who heads the VR lab at Stanford University, experiments show that students pay more attention to a lecturer if the lecturer looks them in the eye. While a lecturer can only look at each student one to two percent of the time in a traditional classroom of 50 students, the virtual imagery of the lecturer can increase the virtual reality gaze to any percentage the user want.

Image Credit: 3 Tips to Successfully Create Virtual Field Trips in Your Classroom | The Journal (By Cincy Wallace)

Thanks to VR’s capacity to represent real-life events and situations, there is a growing empirical evidence that VR is a valuable learning tool. However, there are still many issues that need further investigation including studying how its use can improve the intended performance and understanding and finding out ways to reach more effective learning when using this technology. For instance, a student’s engagement level should be measured while wearing a VR headset to help assess the effectiveness of the use of VR. It is because the immersion or engagement offered by VR is critical to its effectiveness.

LooxidVR, All-in-one mobile VR headset embedded with EEG and eye-tracking sensors

Yet, how immersive or engaged is the VR education? This is something that eye-tracking and EEG measurement is involved to quantify the student’s experience without causing distraction or discomfort. Looxid Labs’ all-in-one VR headset embedded with EEG and eye-tracking sensors can be used to record the student’s physiological information and also doesn’t place any cognitive load on the student. With both kinds of sensors combined, a robust measurement of the level of immersion or engagement that the student is experiencing and understanding how their brain and eyes respond are possible. Potentially, a collaboration between these innovative VR platform and EEG and eye-tracking technology can be the key to have the greatest impact on VR learning outcomes.

Reference

  1. Oculus Education Partners with Research Institutions to Explore VR’s Impact on Learning Outcomes | Oculus Blog
  2. Effectiveness of Virtual Reality-based Instruction on Students’ Learning Outcomes in K-12 and Higher Education: A meta-analysis
  3. Harvard University will Teach a MOOC in Virtual Reality
  4. Research Study Suggests VR can Have a Huge Impact in the Classroom