Virtual Reality Education Conference – What Does It Mean For Education?

Virtual reality (VR) may be the key to getting a high-quality education for those in need. Recently there have been talks of using VR to help developing nations get access to quality teachers and education in a virtual setting, removing the physical aspects of learning.

However, many issues have still shown themselves, particularly with the slow adaptation of the practice even in nations like the U.S and its counterparts. Some schools, in working together with nonprofits and government agencies, have just begun to use VR to tour historical sites like Colorado’s Bent’s Old Fort or overlay the real world with a virtual one to teach anatomy or a foreign language.

Part of the issue is that the standards and basic design principles for educational applications have yet to be worked out. Immersive Education Initiative (IED), a non-profit international collaboration of educators, researchers, and various public and private groups, is working to figure out these principles.

Michael Trucano, the World Bank’s Senior Education and Technology Policy Specialist, has said, “Are there compelling VR software applications today that would enable teachers and learners in developing countries to do things that couldn’t already be done well enough using other means and at much lower price points? Not that I have seen. But it’s still very early.”

The idea of using VR to teach has generated a lot of attention, even prompting the creation of a conference at the Florida Institute of Technology to showcase the technology’s teaching potential.

Kurt Winkelmann, associate professor of chemistry at Florida Tech, stated, “Virtual reality has the potential to better engage students in science and engineering, provide better methods of instruction that improve students’ education and reach a wider audience through distance and online learning.”

The conference, which is free and open to public attendance, will bring researchers, technology developers, and educators interested in education via VR together — particularly those most interested in education pertaining to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, or STEM.

The conference will last from June 5 until June 8 and will have many exhibits on topics concerning education in a VR environment, especially in the STEM fields. Many professionals will gather and exchange information, brainstorming ideas of how to move forward. This face-to-face communication is key to building connections, as many exhibitors and trade show goers agree. In fact, 51% of exhibitors say that they value face-to-face meetings with their clients and prospects.

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