Virtual Reality (VR)

What is it?

Virtual Reality (VR) is the use of computer technology to create a simulated environment. Unlike traditional user interfaces, VR places the user inside an experience. Instead of viewing a screen in front of them, users are immersed and able to interact with 3D worlds. By simulating as many senses as possible, such as vision, hearing, touch, even smell, the computer is transformed into a gatekeeper to this artificial world. Modern headsets can be connected to computers, stand alone devices, or extensions of mobile phones.

Immersive experiences are more engaging, memorable and lead to better retention according to current research. From an education perspective this should equate to better learning outcomes. Additionally, VR experiences do not have to mimic the physical lecture or tutorial room, and extend the capabilities of our current education delivery modalities. Until recently, virtual reality had been something of a fantasy for storytellers and technologists. In the past 5 years the capability of head mounted Virtual Reality equipment has sky rocketed, while at the same time, advances in manufacturing have driven costs down. It is now conceivable to have simulation ready Virtual Reality headsets connected in laboratories and classrooms across the University.

The University has already invested in the Immersive Learning Laboratory (ImmLL) and is currently deploying the Immersive Learning Studio in the new Westmead Innovation precinct. While both provide excellent spaces for engaging in VR education, there are currently limitations in the complexity of curicula we can deliver based on at-hoc and build at home frameworks. As we move forward the University will need to define a path and selection of creation frameworks to meet the growing demand.