Hyperlinked Librarian

Reflection #4: Virtual Reality on the Horizon

Posted on: October 25, 2019

As I was going through the “New Horizons” module last week, I was astonished by some of the emerging technologies. One technology in particular stood out: virtual reality (VR) headsets. VR technology is not particularly “new” as of 2019, but there is a lot of new potential in the way VR can be used.

Maybe I have been living under a rock, but before I explored the readings and videos of this module I thought that VR was just a fun thing to do – purely entertainment. I had no idea that VR is now being taken to the next level, promoting learning, collaboration, and exploration. (I was so moved by new VR horizons that I even shared the video we watched below with some friends and family):

I was struck by Mike McShane’s (2018) article, “Is Virtual Reality the Future of Fieldtrips?” which ponders the potential of VR in the classroom. In the article, McShane points out that not all students and educators have access to expensive class field trips that can enrich educational experiences. But VR has the potential to rectify gaps in educational funding when it comes to excursions. McShane explains, “If students cannot make it to the museum in person, perhaps a VR headset could bring the museum to them” (para. 5). However, McShane does not consider how schools that are struggling to fund field trips could potentially afford multiple VR headsets for students. That’s where libraries could come in. Libraries with funding grants could purchase VR headsets and partner with schools to provide virtual excursions to places of educational value.

I can imagine that my amazement at emerging VR technology is echoed throughout libraries considering adding VR to their services. However, libraries thinking of purchasing VR headsets need to be wary of “technolust” – the “irrational love for new technology combined with unrealistic expectations for the solutions it brings” (Stephens, 2012). McShane (2018) alludes to this trepidation when it comes to new VR technology stating, “Virtual reality appears to offer much that can supplement those [educational] opportunities, but I would worry if it works too hard to replace them” (para. 12). In other words, schools and libraries first need to establish a clear purpose for new technology before diving into spending just because they are amazed at the potential of the new technology. For instance, perhaps a better solution to education funding for excursions is “improving access to [physical] field trip opportunities,” as McShane puts it.

While VR technology can open many doors, as Jan Holmquist (2013) puts it, “it also needs to be the right tool for the job.” VR just may be the right solution for the lack in field trip funding, but keeping realistic goals in mind for what VR will accomplish once implemented can help schools and libraries avoid tech for tech’s sake.  

References

Holmquist, J. (2013). MOOC intro. . Retrieved from https://youtu.be/RGZ9V8wnV4g?list=PLJFU8Vb2i7KwdDjZwceGOhRlb6LuuYMQV

McShane, M. (2018). Is virtual reality the future of fieldtrips? Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/mikemcshane/2018/06/13/is-virtual-reality-the-future-of-field-trips/#5a07a8e71809

Stephens, M. (2012). Taming technolust: Ten steps for planning in a 2.0 world. Retireved from https://tametheweb.com/2012/05/30/taming-technolust-ten-steps-for-planning-in-a-2-0-world-full-text/

Image credit:

Palmero, M. (n.d.). [Picture]. Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/nanpalmero/16237219524/in/photolist-qJPZEL-mneNgj-29XCKsU-Wz2LLG-28QRxj8-X79ngw-TUusLy-23XCJHy-4HYWqe-R44DLP-2ey6qtR-FURQQL-oMGD88-HWUzfM-25s5ZtS-21WtQm1-24enugV-24Trzh9-UqRBWq-2eLfbJr-SUP24d-qjRsW6-JfQWmg-23RRJ9s-TgGh6p-Wp5gFB-mndD5V-Ld1FgK-VvTVEq-YMDakb-UiwGbL-26o4HQ1-25QPsjE-p48eTs-4vP6no-L5HYq9-4vP6qy-p3TRQp-24YEUjR-o7wu3s-HFZm7R-Gxay3V-2cmcFSM-kj2bJi-PhoCNG-SmpGCG-obm23Z-Un6FXY-YV6T6f-Un8God

2 Responses to "Reflection #4: Virtual Reality on the Horizon"

Right! A compelling application of VR – be it for virtual field trips, learning programs, etc – should come before the coolness factor always! Glad you explored this tech.

Hi Melina,

I’ve always associated VR with fun and innovation and it’s great to know that it can be used for many different things. The usage and applications for this technology are filled with endless possibilities.

It would play to the interests of people who like more immersive experiences, who love delving into the sensory and visual side to displays, programs, and other educational ventures. So long as there is a reason for VR technology to be applied in libraries, then that’s what matters.

I personally would love to see what libraries can do with VR. But I also agree with McShane cautioning libraries to think before they jump onto the tech-lust. Things like budgeting and interests of the patrons need to be evaluated prior to purchasing and proposing a plan.

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