Main menu


Is There Still Time to Build Equity in Virtual Reality Edtech? – FE News

Not everyone buys into the idea that virtual reality technology can or should bring higher education to the future of avatars and holograms.

But apart from that hype, virtual reality is already being used in colleges and universities in ways that seem more mainstream as a tool that could enhance teaching and learning. At Columbia University, for example, professors create and use virtual reality tools to help students gain empathy across race lines, learn dental techniques, and explore molecules in 3D. .

Virtual reality can also open up new career opportunities for students. As the industry developing VR grows, it will need workers trained in how to build and apply this technology. A few institutions, like Husson College in Maine, have degree programs dedicated to such training, integrating classes in coding, design, math, and communications.

But to ensure that these opportunities to make the most of virtual reality are not confined to a select few educational institutions or the same group of people who have performed best in past technology development cycles. What should I do now?

Universities that join this earliest will get the biggest payoff.

— Rashawn Ray
That’s the question a team of researchers at the Brookings Institution think tank is asking through a new project investigating the opportunities and barriers virtual reality poses to higher education. In the first article, the group published a report based on roundtables held with leaders from community colleges, Hispanic service agencies, and historically black colleges and universities.

Concerns about the fairness of virtual reality are especially prominent now, as companies and universities race to claim their rights in the so-called metaverse.

Rashawn Ray, a professor at the University of Maryland and senior fellow at Brookings University, who co-leads the research project, said:

Digital divide — or bridge?
Virtual reality headsets cost hundreds of dollars. This is a big price to pay for many students who can no longer afford a modern enough computer or internet connection to complete their college coursework. This digital divide could be exacerbated if the use of virtual reality in higher education expands without careful planning.

Additionally, those same types of students on the wrong side of the digital divide are disproportionately enrolled in colleges that tend to be underfunded, such as community colleges, historically black colleges, and other institutions that serve minorities. . Also, according to the Brookings report, these universities have been slow to adopt virtual reality technology due to the high initial cost of investing in virtual reality technology.

Recommended0 Recommendationwas announced in EdTech