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Monday, June 22, 2015

Penn State Study Finds Virtual Reality Technology Helps Boost Online Learning Experience

"A Penn State professor examined how virtual reality and other related technologies can help improve online education. He and his students found that using the technology to achieve an in-person classroom experience in a distance learning course is working." summarizes Hanna Sanchez, ISchoolGuide.

Group of College Student Experiencing the Virtual Reality World. 
Photo: iSchoolGuide

Photo: Dr. Conrad Tucker
Conrad Tucker, assistant professor of industrial engineering and engineering design at Penn State, conducted a study with his students on the role of virtual reality technology in improving online learning. They discovered that distance learning can become more effective using virtual technology by introducing a tangible element that used to be possible only in an in-person classroom.

Tucker's group used the Oculus Rift virtual reality goggles, as well as a haptic glove that allowed users to gain a first person view to interact with the world, Jace Harr of Education News reported. The technology also helped improve student performance, compared to using a traditional flat screen, a keyboard, and mouse controls.

The study examined 54 undergraduate engineering students who were asked to assemble a virtual coffee pot using disparate pieces. Half of them completed it using virtual reality, while the rest utilized a simple computer program. The virtual reality group had a median time of 23.21 seconds, while the other group had it in 49.04 seconds.
While online education offers big opportunities in higher education, Tucker said, it also has limits.
"There's little immersive or tactile interaction, and sometimes it's hard for students to engage with the material," he explained, according to Katie Jacobs of Penn State News. "IVR systems are a potential solution to that problem."

Tucker said immersive virtual reality like Oculus Rift offers plenty of benefits, among the major ones include giving a more natural experience.

Source: iSchoolGuide