UCD using virtual reality technology as a learning tool

University has set up its ‘own virtual learning environment’ for students

Sony’s virtual reality headset, Project Morpheus: UCD students are using virtual reality technology to  remote control drones and create a virtual campus for students. Photograph: Jonathan Alcorn/ Reuters

Sony’s virtual reality headset, Project Morpheus: UCD students are using virtual reality technology to remote control drones and create a virtual campus for students. Photograph: Jonathan Alcorn/ Reuters

 

At University College Dublin, virtual reality is a serious thing.

While many are looking at the possibility of using virtual reality for business or entertainment, UCD and its computer science and informatics school sees it more as a learning tool.

There are two main areas where researchers are currently working: one is in the use of drones and using virtual reality for remote controlling the machines; the other is in setting up a virtual campus for students.

“We’ve set up our own virtual learning environment. Eventually, we hope to get to the stage where we can teach remotely,” explained Dr Abraham Campbell.

The research team there is also seeking to expand its projects, with funding applications in the pipeline.

Although much of the coverage of virtual reality is concentrating on the positive applications for the technology, there are some caveats.

It’s not suitable for younger children, for example, with under-13s discouraged from using it. There’s also the possibility that an immersive world such as what VR provides could be addictive.

“If you can learn in virtual reality, you can also learn the wrong thing. Gaming addiction is a real thing,” said Dr Campbell.

“But at some stage the amazing possibilities of the technology in the long term would outweigh this.”

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