I thought I was ahead of my time when I bought virtual reality headsets and stuff
mixed reality technology through a grant in late 2019. The pandemic shutdown put an end to my plans to use the virtual reality headsets I purchased for virtual tours and other STEM investigations. Returning to in-person learning just six months later, the prospect of using this technology for meaningful integration seemed more daunting and less appealing.
Feedback from my students has shown that they have already spent hours watching panoramic views while playing on their home computers and are well versed in digital journeys because the instructors often use video tours as tools for interaction during pandemic.
To overcome the disappointment, I recalled that in 2020, Natale et al. published a review of recent research related to virtual reality learning and concluded that VR does not have the same impact on learning with non-immersive tools such as Chromebooks that students are given when forced to study remotely.
Strongly holding on to the vision that VR headsets will be the key to overcoming the passive consumption of videos and games by providing effective immersive learning, I have been patiently waiting for the opportunity to integrate this tool.
Shockingly, when I mentioned the possibility of using virtual reality headsets this year, my students responded with something like “Yeah… like Oculus? Er… I’ve already played with it a lot because I have one at home.’ Once a new technology, the current thinking seemed to be that VR was just another toy used to consume games and other media. I didn’t want to use VR to gamify my classroom. I wanted my students to be able to use virtual reality as a vehicle to develop the higher-order thinking skills that McQuiggan et al. (2015) cited as critical for
thrives in today’s digital society.
To push them away from the consumer mindset, I developed an immersive design adventure that awakened and inspired the 4Cs of learning: creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and communication.