Virtual reality and situated experiential education: A conceptualization and exploratory trial

Schott, Christian; Marshall, Stephen
December 2018
Journal of Computer Assisted Learning;Dec2018, Vol. 34 Issue 6, p843
Academic Journal
Virtual reality is widely recognized as offering the potential for fully immersive environments. This paper introduces a framework that guides the creation and analysis of immersive environments that are pedagogically structured to support situated and experiential education. The "situated experiential education environment" framework described in this paper is used to examine the impact that a virtual environment can have on the user experience of participants in a virtual space. The analysis of a virtual environment implemented to support learner exploration of issues of tourism development and the related impacts, suggest that this type of experience is capable of providing participants with a holistic experience of real‐world environments that are otherwise too expensive, impractical, or unethical for large groups of people to visit in person. The pedagogical value of such experiences is enabled through immersion in a reality‐based environment, engagement with complex and ambiguous situations and information, and interaction with the space, other students, and teachers. The results demonstrate that complex immersive learning environments are readily achievable but that high levels of interactivity remain a challenge. Lay Description: What is already known about this topic: Virtual reality (VR) technology is developing rapidly with interest from practitioners and researchers increasing concurrently.Although VR headsets are extensively researched in a gaming context, there is insufficient research examining the user‐experience of VR headsets in the context of education.What this paper adds: Users reported a multitude of positive features of the VR headsets in the context of experiential learning that is situated in a meaningful context, such as a Pacific island when learning about sustainable development.In particular, a strong sense of immersion was reported by users of the VR headsets.Additionally, the complexity of the material studied, an important feature of situated experiential learning, was also reported to high.Implications for practice and/or policy: VR headsets provide significant opportunities to foster situated experiential learning in a virtual environmentParticularly the immersive experience and the complexity of the material studied were reported to be effective with the VR headsets. However, the interaction with other learners and teachers could not be examined in depth, although interaction is also an important feature of situated experiential learning


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