Tuesday, April 10, 2018

March was my month of exploring virtual reality for learning and development.

We are the proud owners of 10 Virtual Reality (VR) cardboard glasses. We use them in our learning trajectory. However, we get stuck playing with a roller coaster and walking under the Eiffel Tower. When my daughter started working at the supermarket, she got an introduction course via virtual reality. I think I enjoyed it more than my daughter playing around the various departments of the supermarket :).

I doubted for a long time whether I should dive more into virtual reality, because I do not see myself designing virtual reality applications in the future. In the end I decided to learn more about virtual reality because I can advise organizations about it. Hence March became my virtual reality month. First I was at the meeting of the Spindle with Thomas Baars of HumanityX. For NGOs, storytelling via VR or 360 degree video is interesting. A brainstorm about storytelling via VR provided a long list of ideas. However, you should continuously consider the  added value of VR over ordinary video. An example of storytelling is Clouds over Sidra about a refugee camp in Jordan. What I read a lot about is that VR storytelling helps to develop empathy for, by example, the refugees. However, researcher Jeanine Reutemann warns against thinking to easy about VR= empathy. More is needed than a VR app to develop empathy. 

A meetup about VR

I co-organized a meetup with the LOSmakers. Robin de Lange was our expert and inspirator during this meetup. What I have learned here is that it is precisely the sector of training and education which has a lot of potential for VR. Here the video that I made during the meetup. Robin states that the added value of VR for learning is the fact that you can bring a variety of situation in-house via VR. 

Finally, I interviewed Ronald Christiaans of the Police Academy in the Netherlands. You can read the whole interview on the site of ennuonline. Ronald is pioneering intensively with a multitude of simulations for the police, such as shooting simulations.

What did I learn in March? 

I see that there is a lot of development in VR applications. It is still in its infancy but there is a lot of potential for training applications. It is ideal for practicing difficult or dangerous situations, for example situations such as fighting hooligans, fear of heights, or on patrol in Mali. The immersive nature of VR makes it fun, but also sticky. It can have a huge impact.

You can see that SAMR is at play too. What is just substituting a video with VR and what is really innovative?  there is a lot of substitution going on: VR application developed with a face-to-face training mindset. The first VR applications have been conceived from our current way of thinking. Jeanine showed an example of a VR application in which a powerpoint presentation was given :). Conversely, Robin had brought an application where you could draw in VR. That does turn the idea of ​​drawing upside down.

What I also learned is that VR can range from very expensive to almost cheap. It is also close to augmented reality (AR) and simulations and sometimes it is hard to draw the line. AR has a lot of potential for performance support. VR is not new, think of the flight simulator that has existed for a long time. What is new is that it is becoming cheaper and more accessible. So you can start photographing situations with a 360-degree camera of 300 euros. 

Because VR is so new, there must be room to experiment. Both the Police Academy and HumanityX have this space. If you do not experiment and deliberately set your mind to explore VR you will not wake up in the morning and think of a VR learning solution. Think of our old slogan "If you can not cycle, walking is always faster". Ronald says that you will also invest some money in applications that will not work. You have lost that money or you can also see it as a learning money. Go on a discovery tour to get a better picture of what VR is and what it can accomplish, visit companies or meetups to increase your knowledge. Check with yourself what you want to achieve, and maybe start small. Or big?

Looking for examples and inspiration?

Here's a listly list with examples: https://list.ly/list/1rx5-virtual-reality-beyond-fun-and-amusement

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