Possible Worlds: The Social Dynamic of Virtual Reality Technology

By Ralph Schroeder | Go to book overview

4
Virtual Worlds and Everyday Realities: Education and Games

Learning with VR

Give the tools to the young: before they are conditioned; before they are seduced and bemused. ( Clark 1992:9)

Up until now, VR has only been used in a limited number of settings, aside from that of entertainment games. If training were to be included under the rubric of education, that would make education the second-largest area of VR application after entertainment. The use of VR in battlefield simulation and vehicle simulation, for example, probably accounts for more everyday VR applications than any other area, apart from games. In this chapter, however, we shall define education in the more narrow sense, referring to schools, where so far there have been only a handful of pilot projects. These, however, have generated an enormous amount of interest, both from the media and from educators. We will focus on three education projects, the West Denton High School in Newcastle, the Shepherd School in Nottingham, and the Human Interface Technology Laboratory's summer school in Seattle.

Before each project is described in detail, some general comments are called for. Here as elsewhere, our main concern will be with the relationship between VR technology and the social context. It is still too early to attempt an evaluation of the effectiveness of VR as a teaching tool. 1 Instead, the focus will be on how VR systems are coming to be used in these settings: How do they fit into existing teaching practices? How are pupils and staff responding to them? What patterns of VR use are emerging? And finally, how do these systems compare with other uses of VK? One issue to bear in mind throughout is that unlike

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