As it appears more likely that physical distancing will be a mainstay for some time, some post-secondary educators are taking steps to make sure learning can continue under these conditions.
Georgian College is among the post-secondary institutions turning to virtual reality (VR) to teach its students. With equipment and programming already in place for architectural and paramedic students, educators are looking for other ways to implement VR in the classroom. “Georgian has already been exploring VR and simulation technologies in a variety of our programs,” said Kevin Weaver, Vice President, Academic at Georgian. “It only makes sense for Georgian to accelerate these efforts and continue to be a leader. Georgian, even before COVID-19, was intentionally moving in this direction. It is even more important now as we find ourselves not able to deliver in-person activity at this time.”
The technology appears to be filling some gaps in face-to-face learning when video conferencing and textbooks just won’t do.
Students with the school’s applied life sciences classes are exploring new ways of using VR. For example, a program called Nanome allows students to manipulate molecules while experimenting, designing, and learning in a virtual environment.
Georgian’s paramedic’s program continues to make good use of VR technology, according to Professor Rob Theriault. “Virtual reality, unlike any other educational technology, provides experiential learning, where students can do things with their hands, think critically and make decisions that have measurable results,” he said,
Theriault is currently working on a plan to invest in more hardware and software for a number of different programs.