I just pre-paid for the Oculus VR Rift, an immersive virtual reality headset! You put the headset on and you really feel like you are in the virtual reality space – not just a two-dimensional screen that mimics three dimensions, but a real three-dimensional environment.
The headset is compatible with Second Life and could usher in a whole new meaning to online education. I already teach my Intro to Philosophy course in Second Life, but imagine going to class in this kind of immersive environment! We could have class in Athens, Greece when talking about Plato, in Birkenau when talking about the problem of evil, or in deep space when talking about the nature of spacetime. History classes could take immersive virtual fieldtrips to different historical time periods, Spanish classes could visit virtual Mexico and talk to native speakers who meet you in the virtual space…the possibilities seem almost endless.
Mark Zuckerberg just bought the Oculus company and is dumping billions of dollars into the tech. He is betting that this kind of virtual reality is the wave of the future. Since he is Facebook, I see his intentions in social media, but it has far reaching implications for education and all sorts of things. Nonetheless, Zuckerberg’s interest in virtual reality just made the likelihood of a big boom in virtual reality that much greater. It’s coming!
Of course, there are downsides. What if the virtual reality becomes a lot more interesting than “actual” reality? With everyone pretty much addicted to their smartphones these days, would this become a worse addiction? Have you seen the movie Surrogates?
So I see the benefits with education, but I see the potential pitfalls…care to weigh in and let us know your thoughts on this??