Choosing an Appropriate VR Platform: Education

As an exercise in choosing an appropriate VR platform for a target audience, I chose to explore the requirements of an application to teach animation fundamentals.


Persona

Persona Portrait
Name: Laura
Age: Early 20's
Occupation: College student
Quote: “I am a visual learner and I like when learning feels like a game.”
What motivates them: Laura is a computer science student studying computer graphics. She likes video games and likes to keep up with the latest technology, including a curiousity for VR. She has some experience with VR.

Questions

How accessible would each VR platform be to your target student in terms of price? Take into account location, age, and income.

My target students are in college and likely have a smart phone. They probably don’t have much income, but a school computer lab may be able to provide more expensive equipment.

How interactive does your lesson need to be? For example, do I need to pick things up or could I get away with just looking at objects?

The lessons could be taught using “prebaked” animations that the students would just watch, but the lessons would be much more effective if they were interactive. A few examples would be seeing the effects of changing timing curves on an animation and being able to switch between forward and inverse kinematics on a skeleton rig.

How realistic do your visuals need to be in order to teach? For example, could I use 2D images and videos in a 3D Environment or do you need high poly 3D models.

The application would require simple 3d primatives to properly convey the lessons.

Does my student need to feel like a participant in the experience or can they be a passive viewer? Could they be both?

The student could be passive while watching animation demos, but the real value of the VR application will be the ability of the student to actively participate in modifying and creating animations.

Given the answers above, what are potential platforms you could use for your experience?

The app will only require basic 3D models and will be able to run on most smart phones. Cardboard would make the app available to the most students, but it will extremely limit the types of interaction the students could have. Daydream would be ideal because it could run the simple app while providing a controller for a better interactive experience with animation simulations. Daydream will become a better option as more phones are supported. More immersive platforms, such as Vive and Oculus, are probably too expensive. Even most college graphics labs are likely to only have one or two of the devices available.