Think back to the time when you were learning to ride a bike. Did you learn from reading a book? Did watching someone ride a bike provide you with enough knowledge allow you to hop on and ride seamlessly into the sunset? Probably not. Chances are you sat on the seat, put your feet on the pedals, and fell over a time or two before mastering the art of bicycle riding. No matter how many times you watched your brother ride his bike, you didn’t grasp the skill until you tried it yourself. Similar arguments are being made within the realm of education. Videos and other media present visual or auditory stimuli to enhance teaching, but it misses a critical component—students aren’t actively engaging with the content.
Olga Scrivner and Julie Madewell from the Spanish and Portuguese Department at Indiana University have teamed up with Nitocris Perez from University Information Technology Services in order to transform language education by introducing Virtual Reality (VR) immersive technologies in the classroom, thanks to a grant from The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. The plan is for language instructors to film cultural videos during their travels and record various language conversations using 360-degree cameras. Students will engage in Virtual Reality using Google Cardboard viewers, which Scrivner states, “allows for incorporation of cultural and communicative aspects of language learning.”
As this technology is growing at Indiana University, Scrivner and Madewell hope to address these questions in their research: Does this emerging technology positively affect students’ motivation and performance? How do students and instructors respond to VR interaction? How does VR change the language classroom dynamic?
Have you thought about incorporating virtual or augmented reality in your classroom, but don’t know where to start? Consider making an appointment with the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning to talk to a consultant about ways to create an engaging classroom dynamic with active learning—whether it’s with virtual reality, incorporating other technologies into your teaching, or providing space and opportunities for students to become active participants.