Sunday, November 17

How Virtual Reality is Changing Campuses


by A.J. O'Connell

In 1999, THE Journal published an article about virtual reality (VR) in education. “The future is here,” it crowed.

The piece, which went on to discuss virtual field trips and the other possibilities of VR in education, was typical of the articles and academic papers being published at the time: commercial video games had been experimenting with VR for a few years, The Matrix movie had just come out, and VR had the potential to change education forever.

But thanks to technological limitations and prohibitive costs, it didn’t. Not for years. 

Now, 20 years after that breathless article, VR technology is finally catching up with its promise. It’s starting to transform college life as professors introduce VR and augmented reality (AR) into their lessons, students tour colleges from afar, and academics gather online, rather than in person, for conferences.

Administrators interested in the potential of VR may be interested in bringing these innovations to their school, and may also be concerned about the challenges and risk of VR and its cousins, AR, and mixed reality (MR). What can administrators do to encourage the use of VR on campus, and what policies should they be thinking of to keep their students and faculty safe? Here are some things to think about: 

  • Virtual campus tours
  • Virtual orientation activities
  • Virtual conferences for professors
  • Ensuring that virtual reality is accessible for all
  • Ethics in virtual reality

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