Stanford researchers took a virtual reality experience into a variety of educational settings, including high school classrooms, to test the impact on awareness and understanding of ocean acidification.
See video here.
Utter the words “ocean acidification” in mixed company, and you’ll probably get blank stares. Although climate change has grown steadily in the public consciousness, one of its most insidious impacts – a widespread die-off of marine ecosystems driven by carbon dioxide emissions – remains relatively unknown.
Enter virtual reality. In a new study, published Nov. 30 in Frontiers in Psychology, researchers at Stanford and the University of Oregon discovered that VR can be a powerful tool for improving environmental learning gains and attitudes. The researchers found that experiencing a simulation of ocean acidification’s effects spurred meaningful gains in people’s understanding of the issue.
“I believe virtual reality is a powerful tool that can help the environment in so many ways,” said study co-author Jeremy Bailenson, the Thomas More Storke Professor of Communication. “Changing the right minds can have a huge impact.”
New gear, wider reach
With the advent of affordable consumer-grade gear from companies such as Oculus Rift, Samsung and Microsoft, potential audiences for VR are expanding far beyond Stanford’s multimillion-dollar Virtual Human Interaction Lab.
Working with co-author Roy Pea, the David Jacks Professor of Education and director of Stanford’s Human-Sciences and Technologies Advanced Research Institute, Bailenson and his team brought the Stanford Ocean Acidification Experience to more than 270 high school students, college students and adults.
In one such test, high school seniors in a marine biology class at Sacred Heart Preparatory in Atherton, California, took on new virtual identities in the simulation (which is free to download). Each became a pink coral on a rocky underwater reef throbbing with urchins, bream, snails and other creatures.
By the end of the simulation – which fast-forwards to what the reef will look like at the end of this century – those brilliantly varied and colorful species have disappeared. They are replaced by slimy green algae and the silver Salema Porgy – a fish that will likely thrive in more acidic waters. The simulation is based on the work of Fiorenza Micheli, the David and Lucile Packard Professor of Marine Science at Stanford.
Eventually, the viewer’s virtual coral skeleton disintegrates. “If ocean acidification continues, ecosystems like your rocky reef, a world that was once full of biological diversity, will become a world of weeds,” the narration intones.
Connected to the environment
The simulation was effective at making users feel a connection with their bodies, according to researchers who tracked the students’ movements. Some of the students swiveled their heads and twisted their bodies during the simulation.
“It’s pretty cool, pretty responsive,” said 18-year-old Cameron Chapman. “I definitely felt like I was underwater.”
“It was way more realistic than I expected,” said fellow high school senior Alexa Levison. “I’m a visual learner. Seeing ocean acidification happen is different than just hearing about it.”
After the experience, the Sacred Heart students’ scores on questions about ocean acidification causes and mechanisms increased by almost 150 percent and they retained that knowledge when tested several weeks later. In all of the study’s in-school experiments, participants demonstrated increasing knowledge about ocean acidification as their time in the VR learning environment grew longer.
“Across age groups, learning settings and learning content, people understand the processes and effect of ocean acidification after a short immersive VR experience,” said study lead author David Markowitz, a graduate student at the time of the research, now an assistant professor at the University of Oregon.
“We don’t know whether a VR experience results in more learning compared to the same materials presented in other media,” Bailenson said. “What we do know is that it increases motivation – people are thrilled to do it, much more so than opening a textbook – and because of the richness of the data recorded by the VR system, you can tweak the learning materials in real time based on how well someone is learning.”
Bailenson is taking his VR experience beyond the classroom. He has been sending researchers with VR headsets to flea markets and libraries to show the ocean acidification experience. It is part of a permanent virtual reality exhibition at the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, California. Bailenson is also collaborating with companies to incorporate environment-themed VR into video games.
Although Bailenson is becoming more confident in the generalizability of the work, he acknowledges the need for replications to test how robust it is and to determine how long the effects endure. Questions remain about the effects of repeated VR exposure and how they persist over time. Research has yet to incorporate a broad demographic sample that spans variables such as age, income and education.
Despite these unknowns, co-author Brian Perone, a graduate student at the time of the research, said he is optimistic about the value of VR in education. “When done right, these experiences can feel real, and can give learners a lasting sense of connectedness,” he said.
The Latest on: Virtual reality
via Google News
The Latest on: Virtual reality
- New classroom helps Wyoming workers learn virtual realityon June 19, 2021 at 6:12 am
The classroom full of city of Gillette workers, not students, sat in desks facing the front of the Gillette College Technical Education Center classroom, but they also were faced in all different ...
- Facebook tests ads in virtual reality headsetson June 18, 2021 at 5:35 am
Facebook has begun displaying ads in its Oculus virtual reality headsets, despite the founder of the platform saying it would never do so. In what the social network described as an experiment, ads ...
- Company at heart of Arizona's election 'audit' exists mostly in virtual realityon June 17, 2021 at 5:48 pm
Cyber Ninjas, the company running Arizona Senate's controversial election 'audit,' is one man - Doug Logan - whose spouting of debunked conspiracy theories about 2020 election fraud may bring him more ...
- Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Peloton-like fitness subscriptions for Virtual Realityon June 17, 2021 at 3:20 pm
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg sees potential for Peloton-like fitness subscriptions in the future of Virtual Reality. Zuckerberg spoke about virtual and augmented reality efforts at French tech ...
- Why Facebook is cornering the virtual reality marketon June 17, 2021 at 12:41 pm
Global Business and Financial News, Stock Quotes, and Market Data and Analysis. Data also provided by ...
- Facebook testing virtual reality ads in Oculus VRon June 17, 2021 at 6:52 am
This opportunity may be perfect for many advertisers to reach a new or specific type of audience if the tests go well.
- Facebook Expands Its Virtual Reality Gaming Ecosystem (Again)on June 17, 2021 at 5:00 am
Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) recently agreed to buy BigBox VR, the developer of the popular multiplayer game Population: ONE for an undisclosed sum. Population: ONE is a "battle royale" game similar to PUBG ...
- Facebook brings ads to virtual reality headsets - even though Oculus founder said it would never happenon June 17, 2021 at 2:09 am
Oculus will not ‘flash ads at you’ and the company doesn’t ‘have to compromise on anything’, Palmer Luckey said when Facebook bought the company ...
- Facebook Begins Testing VR Ads On Its Oculus Virtual Reality Headsetson June 16, 2021 at 11:06 pm
Ads will begin to appear in Blaston, an action game developed by Resolution, and in other Oculus games over the coming weeks.
via Bing News