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The Potential of VR for UK Higher Education
Group report: Education Issues
Introduction to the Group Work
Current developments in virtual environment technologies and broadband communications are likely to have a major influence on the direction and development of future educational activities. The exact role of these technologies and the degree to which they supplant or support current teaching practises is yet to be determined. As educationalists and developers, how do we manage the transition to employing these new mediums and integrate them into the educational process, how we organise training, package development, widespread access, funding and implementation present a plethora of new challenges.
The aim of the 'Changing Education' group is to identify the issues facing institutions in the best practise adoption of these emerging technologies and establishing guidelines on how to implement and fund the process of adoption. It is hoped that the short (1-3 years), medium(3-5 years) and long term ( 5-10 years) issues and implications can be identified, along with strategies for aiding the development of these technologies as effective educational mediums.
The group will seek to identify the changing relationship of the education delivery process and emerging broadband & virtual environment technologies. It will seek to identify the changes and trends these technologies offer and their role in the education process. Anticipated issues for the session include:
- the increasing presence and changing role of telecommunications organisations & broadband communications in the education sphere.
- the benefits and problems of employing virtual environments for education.
- the problems of funding the development of cultural ( teaching tools, learning materials, training, curricula) and physical implementation ( locations - central / distributed resources, informed choice of platforms etc.)
- current educational and technological trends / practises and how these may effect the uptake of virtual environment technologies.
National Centre for Virtual Environments, Salford , UK.
Phillip Trotter reported back on the discussions of the group.
If VR is to be useful in UK HE, it needs to be possible (technological aspects), gainful (economics) and allowable (cultural). Currently it is possible.
In the short term how do we develop and establish pathways towards the appropriate and effective use of VR?
To remove some of the barriers to use we need to have:
- proof of concept through demonstrations and case studies etc to prove that it works (examples of successes and failures)
- information provision on the state of the art and cost effective systems and solutions that are scalable, supportable and robust for educational use
- training and support for service staff on the skills and techniques required to assess the potential of virtual environments and advice on when it might be viable to introduce such systems in teaching
- advice is needed on the skills to be taught to undergraduates on course about VR - need a forum for sharing experience
- more understanding and advice on legal issues - copyright, IPR etc
- addressed the payment for online information issues - accepted as being a more general problem
Following further discussion within the group, the following recommendations were made:
- A review of hardware and software in an educational context should be conducted with any resulting software agreements being linked with training materials
- A substantive review of the field should be carried out to include:
- case studies of current examples of VR in education
- scope of potential curricula for VE courses including components of existing courses, e.g. architecture, multimedia, etc.. and potential for experience gained from non-traditional education background
- review of industrial employment of VR/VE technologies
- review of international activity of VE for education
- review of related technologies, e.g. multimedia, games industries
- The group supported the JTAP concept of a focused club and believe this can be utilised as a dissemination mechanism.
- There is a need to set up "proof of concept" demonstrators, so the H.E. community can learn from experience. Proof of concept should include
- educational value
- scalable, supportable, stable
- examination of potential standards
- build on existing cases
The production of games is very labour intensive, so there may be few lessons to be learned there - much bigger market.
We need to look at Netskills as a possible method/model of educating the community as the need for skills training emerges.
VR is relevant to eLib and publishing.
Virtual Environments Visualisation