VIRTUAL REALITY IN LEARNING

Virtual reality is an innovative tool that, thanks to its multisensory and engaging nature, can satisfy the principles of active learning. It is a real 3D first-person immersion, in fact, the images allow the user to be placed in the centre of them, giving the user the possibility of observing and feeling the surrounding environment.

ADVANTAGES OF USING VIRTUAL REALITY

Virtual reality has a particular influence on certain human characteristics such as perception, cognition, communication and behaviour, favouring an interactive, participatory and inclusive teaching.

The benefits of using Virtual Reality applications in e-learning are numerous:

  • User experience is always active and involvement is immediate;
  • Immersive experiences facilitate concentration and raise the level of attention;
  • The physical exploration of simulated spaces and times facilitates learning, knowledge and memorisation;
  • Experimental practice helps to understand complex themes, concepts and theories;
  • Learning takes place in controlled, safe and protected spaces;
  • Virtual scenarios can be very realistic and can be experienced and lived remotely;
  • The experience of virtual reality is innovative and it is generally perceived as pleasant (gamification);
  • It makes possible things that in reality would not be possible, allowing learning by doing and experiencing first-hand what it means to be something or someone.

IMMERSIVE DEVICES FOR VIRTUAL REALITY

Nowadays, there are numerous virtual reality devices that can provide different levels of immersion. In particular, we can distinguish two levels of immersiveness:

  • The first level is defined by desktop devices, known as Desktop Virtual Reality (DVR), in which the user interacts with a three-dimensional world generated on a computer screen. In this case, the user is not totally immersed in the virtual world and the interaction takes place through peripherals such as a mouse, a keyboard or a joystick. In this case, the sensory input coming from the real world surrounding the users does not allow them to fully immerse themself in the virtual experience.
  • The second level is instead defined by those devices capable of increasing the level of immersiveness thanks to the intensification of the sensory stimuli coming from the virtual world. These devices are in fact screens with a large visual field surrounding the users, giving them a complete perceptual immersion and stronger emotions.

VIRTUAL REALITY IN E-LEARNING

As is known, distance vocational learning usually requires the tracking of the completed activities, according to internationally recognised standards, such as SCORM or Tin Can (or xApi). For the corporate and professional world, it is required, both by business policies and by laws and regulations, an evidence of the training carried out by the people involved in the training. It is necessary that the fulfilment of the training obligations be attested, often through certificates.

In traditional e-learning this aspect does not cause particular problems. A course is inserted into the platform (LMS) as a SCORM package, a few settings must be configured and then the course is associated with the certificate generation. When the user has finished to follow the course, a SCORM signal is sent to the LMS that, in turn, releases the certificate to the learner.

What would happen if the content of a course made with virtual reality techniques, the e-learning object, were outside the platform? VR applications are created with real “game engines” and generate a complex output. They are not small ZIP packets loadable like a video course onto the LMS, and they can be gigabytes in size.

PMF Research has in recent years looked at a system that integrates a virtual reality application with an LMS system, in order to make a course fully compliant with the sector legislation, despite this being out of the LMS. In fact, even during the course, the users must be constantly tracked, and when they perform actions that require the release of a certificate within an LMS, the command to be sent must be compliant with the international standards on tracking. The users will then find the certificates in their profile on the platform and the trainer will have the logs needed.

Those who deal with distance learning will no longer have technological constraints on making choices about the type of courses to distribute, but only the dilemma over whether to continue with traditional training or to experiment with something innovative and effective, up with the times.

If you are interested in implementing a course that combines virtual reality techniques with e-learning, do not hesitate to contact us.

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