VR learning aces two key tests - Main 1

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VR learning is changing the way education is delivered in the classroom

Quick read

➨ Fisk University is demonstrating that VR has a place in the classroom through a partnership with HTC Vive, T-Mobile, and VictoryXR
➨ The new VR lab overcomes the challenges inherent in sourcing the necessary equipment to deliver this educational experience in the traditional way in the classroom
➨ Meanwhile, a new study shows that virtual reality is also an effective tool for learning

The story

Virtual reality is redefining education in the classroom—both as a less resource-intensive alternative to traditional methods and as an effective tool for learning.

Fisk University, based in Nashville, Tennessee and one of the top ranked HBCUs (historically Black colleges and universities) in the US, is demonstrating that virtual reality has a place in the classroom and can serve as an alternative to expensive and difficult-to-source equipment, through a partnership with HTC Vive, T-Mobile, and VictoryXR.

They have launched an interactive 5G-powered virtual reality human cadaver lab for students in pre-med and biology-related majors, to overcome the challenges inherent in sourcing the necessary equipment to deliver this educational experience in the traditional way in the classroom.

The university previously borrowed cadavers from other universities for their pre-med students in advanced anatomy and biology classes, due to their high cost and level of maintenance.

Instead, this virtual reality lab, built by educational experience developer VictoryXR for HTC Vive’s new mobile Focus 3 headset using T-Mobile-powered 5G, enables students to explore and interact with the complete skeletal structure, muscle structure and the eleven human organ systems while still engaging in-person with their classmates and instructors.

VR learning aces two key tests - Body 1
Students can explore and interact with the complete skeletal structure, muscle structure and the eleven human organ systems

Dr Shirley Brown, dean of Fisk University, comments: “With this cadaver lab, our pre-med students will no longer need to rely on other universities for advanced anatomy and biology classes. Virtual reality technology takes our university to a level equal to the most advanced schools in the country.”

Fisk University also intends to offer in-person virtual reality history courses that will enable students to ‘visit’ locations rather than read about them in a textbook or watch them in a video.

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The lab will be used as part of in-person advanced anatomy and biology classes

These include key civil rights locations such as the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, and the National Mall in Washington, DC.

Steve Grubbs, chief executive officer of VictoryXR, whose dedicated virtual reality academy launched last year and continues to work with colleges and universities to deliver immersive educational experiences, says: “The rise of virtual reality is redefining the classroom. Remote learning is broken and VR campuses enable professors and students to again come together to teach, learn and solve problems.”

Find out more about the virtual reality lab in the video below.

‘A truly ground-breaking moment’

This partnership also served as a showcase for HTC Vive’s Focus 3 and T-Mobile’s 5G capabilities.

The VR cadaver lab runs on the Ultra Capacity 5G network, which provides the low latency, high capacity and speed needed to run a bandwidth-intensive virtual reality experience for a classroom of students simultaneously, according to T-Mobile.

With T-Mobile 5G, the experience offers high-def graphical detail, making it possible, for example, to better discern veins and arteries. Meanwhile, the low latency of 5G keeps the experience concurrent for multiple users, making sure the whole class stays in sync.

The all-in-one (meaning no PC is required) Focus 3 running on T-Mobile 5G delivers the high-def visuals, audio and inside-out tracking and controllers required to deliver “extraordinary learning experiences”, “seamless remote collaboration” and “incredibly effective training opportunities”.

VRAR Global Summit - Vive Focus 3
Vive Focus 3

Nigel Newby-House, vice president of HTC operator solutions, says: “This is an incredibly exciting time for VR as 5G performance advantages begin to further liberate the scaling potential of immersive tech and real-time learning and collaboration experiences across education and the corporate world.”

“Enabling this world-first deployment of VR and 5G at Fisk with Victory XR and T-Mobile is a truly ground-breaking moment.”

VR was more enjoyable and easier to use

As well as proving to be a less resource-intensive alternative to traditional methods, virtual reality is also showing its potential as an effective tool for learning.

Researchers from the Neuroimaging Center at NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) and Wisconsin Institute for the Discovery at University Wisconsin-Madison recently developed the UW Virtual Brain Project.

The project produces unique, interactive, 3D narrated diagrams to help students learn about the structure and function of perceptual systems in the human brain.

The resulting study exploring how students responded to these lessons on desktop PCs and in virtual reality offers new insights into the benefits of the immersive technology as an educational tool.

Led by the director of NYUAD’s Neuroimaging Center, Bas Rokers, and Karen Schloss, a principal investigator in the Virtual Environments Group at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery at University of Wisconsin-Madison, the researchers published their findings in a new paper, UW Virtual Brain Project: An immersive approach to teaching functional neuroanatomy in the journal Translational Issues in Psychological Science from the American Psychological Association (APA).

In their experiments, the researchers found that participants showed significant content-based learning for both devices, with no significant differences between PC and virtual reality devices for content-based learning outcomes.

But, crucially, virtual reality far exceeded PC viewing for achieving experience-based learning outcomes. The immersive technology was, according to the study, more enjoyable and easier to use.

Find out more about the research on the APA website.

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Images: T-Mobile

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