Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies offer a great deal of potential for higher education by enabling new modes of teaching and learning. VR products give the user an entirely immersive experience, in which a headset (and generally an accompanying motion controller) enables the user to interact with a fully digital world. In AR, virtual data is layered over the user's own physical environment to create a blended reality.
Learning Futures, in partnership with ITDS, academic staff and researchers, is exploring how we can implement these technologies to contribute to the student-centred, outcomes-driven approach in line with other initiatives at Western and across higher education more generally. Students can visualize and interact with environments that may be otherwise impossible to access due to physical, financial, or temporal constraints. The primary value of AR-VR in the short- to mid-term is likely to be in the disciplines of medicine and engineering where associated costs in developing what are termed low probability, high-risk events and in providing frequent repetition makes VR/AR a valuable addition to the University’s Technology Enabled Learning suite.