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VR and AR attract education sector interest

21/11/19

Mark Say Managing Editor

Most higher and further education institutions are showing an interest in the use of augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR), according to a survey by Jisc.

Woman in VR headset

The technology provider to the sector, which operates as a membership organisation for universities and colleges, has published a study showing that 82% of 101 respondents – largely from higher education – were keen on using immersive technologies. Just short of half (49%) described themselves as “very interested”.

The support is coming largely from a view that the technology can provide good quality experiential learning for students, giving them something not available in a traditional classroom, and that there is plenty of untapped potential in their organisations.

Comments from the survey respondents suggest it can encourage innovative approaches to teaching and improve the acquisition and retention of skills.

AR and VR are already used to a significant extent – in 96% of the universities and 79% of the colleges – but in most cases it was just in one or two departments or faculties – 58% for universities and 43% for colleges. Just 9% and 21% respectively are using the technology in more than five departments.

About a third each are either concentrating on using their own content and resources or utilising a mixed model that combines this with collaborations with other organisations. Only small numbers – 11% in higher education and 5% in further education – are buying content and resources from external providers.

Barriers

The survey also identified that cost provides a main barrier, along with a perceived lack of specialist support and skills and a limited understanding of how VR and AR can be used. It also revealed that more organisations are currently working with VR than AR, and that the leading uses are in health and medicine subjects and engineering and technology.

Phil Richards, chief innovation officer at Jisc, commented: “Asked to specify the most important action Jisc can take to support organisations’ use of immersive technology, respondents suggested showcasing best practice, supporting a reduction in costs, providing advice and guidance, and offering community/peer support.

“I’m proud to say we have already begun this work by introducing new training opportunities, developing case studies with institutions at the leading edge of practice, and creating opportunities for interested parties to meet in person. Looking ahead, we hope to help our members embed immersive technologies in teaching and learning practice.”

Image by Jisc and Matt Lincoln, CC BY ND 3.0

 

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