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Educational Uses of Virtual Reality Technology

By C. Youngblut


Educating current and future generations of American children to live in an information society is a critical issue. It is compounded by the recognized need to provide life-long education for all citizens and to support a flexible workforce. Virtual reality (VR) technology has been widely proposed as a major technological advance that can offer significant support for such education. There are several ways in which VR technology is expected to facilitate learning. One of its unique capabilities is the ability to allow students to visualize abstract concepts, to observe events at atomic or planetary scales, and to visit environments and interact with events that distance, time, or safety factors make unavailable. The types of activities supported by this capability facilitate current educational thinking that students are better able to master, retain, and generalize new knowledge when they are actively involved in constructing that knowledge in a learning-by-doing situation. The potential of VR technology for supporting education is widely recognized. Several programs designed to introduce large numbers of students and teachers to the technology have been established, a number of academic institutions have developed research programs to investigate key issues, and some public schools are evaluating the technology

Year: 1998
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