When the professors were redesigning the laboratory unit for the introductory biology course at Arizona State University, they got advice from Steven Spielberg and other Hollywood veterans on how to help students build up with the fictional “Frog Cat” Suggestions for emotional connection.
As part of a collaboration with a VR entertainment company called Dreamscape Immersive, the university is producing course materials, the company is led by Walter Parkes, he produced Hollywood blockbusters, including “Men in Black”, “Minority Report” and “Angles” Fighter. To enter this experimental biology laboratory that Parkes is helping to build, students need to wear VR headsets—and stop suspicion.
At the ASU GSV Summit in San Diego last week, the leaders of this work showed off their new VR classrooms, sought feedback to improve materials, and tried to build a buzz for their new classrooms. Joint venture, Hoping to eventually sell these materials to other schools and colleges.
In the demonstration classroom built in the exhibition hall of the conference, six desks form a circle. Each participant sat at the desk, and the waiter helped them put on heavy VR headsets and tied a plastic sensor to each hand. On each table there is a joystick that looks like it can be used in a flight simulator.
“If you have things on your table, make sure to take them off before you start,” warned the staff member who had us all sit down. Otherwise, he added that when the VR headset is turned on, you may accidentally remove them because “you will not be able to see those in the virtual world” (because wearing the headset means completely shielding the “real world” “.)
Once all the equipment was turned on, we were taken to an exterior scene that looked like a Jurassic Park movie. Each student is driving a small flight research module through an “alien zoo” full of fantasy creatures. When I turned my head, the field of vision changed to where I was looking, and I could see five other students in their flight pod-once I hit one of them and knocked me down a bit.
The premise is that the students are researchers in the fictitious “Extraterrestrial Reserve for Endangered Species in the Galaxy” and must collect data on the types of animals they find. One of the species is a frog cat. In fact, a narrator’s voice explained that a young frog cat in the zoo behaved drowsy. The question to the participants was, what is wrong with this poor alien creature?
Users are allowed to interact in the world, but everything is highly guided. Participants use the joystick to drive the pod, but are instructed to follow a set path marked by a floating circle. When it is necessary to analyze a sick frog cat, the user is told to obtain a certain medical device from the selection menu, and then the user only needs to click a button to watch the actual data collection. It’s like watching an immersive movie, the audience must click “Next” from time to time to continue.
One of the other people who completed the presentation with me was Jewyl Alderson Clarke, a comprehensive curriculum coordinator at the San Diego County Office of Education. She has evaluated many other VR applications for education, and she is happy to try this demo. But she said she hopes to have the opportunity to have richer interactions in the alien zoo.
“It’s really just a button press experience,” she said.She added: “Students may have the opportunity to actually choose which tests they give to the frog cat.” “With VR, the cool thing is that you can turn that little pod into a Tadis, Behind them may be a huge laboratory, even if you are in a small cabin-you can play with reality. “
The head of the ASU project stated that they heard the feedback and are working hard to add more interaction as they build the remaining materials for the virtual laboratory.
This development is on a fast track. Lisa Flesher, senior director of EdPlus, who leads ASU’s online work, said that the plan is to integrate new VR classrooms and “alien zoo” modules into ASU’s introductory biology curriculum before the spring semester. The classroom will have two groups, each with 12 desks equipped with VR, so that up to two dozen students can experience at the same time.
ASU leaders emphasized that each 10-minute VR experience series is only part of the laboratory experience, because students will leave the interaction with the frog cat and gain data points, and then they must analyze and discuss with their classmates in a way. A more traditional classroom setting.
ASU Assistant Director of Learning Innovation Mike Angilletta explained: “When you leave VR, everyone who enters VR has data that can be downloaded and put in Excel.” “You have to work in a team and you have to communicate.”
In a public speech at the ASU GSV Summit, ASU Principal Michael Crow made a personal promotion for the new VR classroom, hoping that it would help more students succeed in STEM subjects that are challenging for many students.
“We want to eliminate the notion that these are hard courses,” he said. “They are not difficult, they are difficult to teach.”
“People have been talking about entertaining and learning for a long time—how you can use something interesting to activate certain parts of the mental process and connect it to education in a meaningful way,” Crow added. “What we are after is the connection of emotional participation.”
Parkes is a Hollywood producer and leader of Dreamscape Immersive. He believes that the emotional connection between students and VR materials will make them more engaged compared to traditional teaching methods.
“Everything we do is to get people involved,” he said. “Whether it’s buying tickets or entering the VR experience for entertainment, or educating people. How do you get people involved?”
Shopping center origin
You may have seen the Alien Zoo VR world before-but there is no scientific goal. That’s because the environment is developed for entertainment experience and can be used in shopping malls in Los Angeles, Dallas, Dubai and other places. Parks said at the ASU GSV summit meeting that he developed the premise of the alien zoo with the help of his friend and former colleague Steven Spielberg.
Alderson Clark, who has taught science courses in schools in the past, said that one of the challenges of the ASU and Dreamscape Immersive collaboration is to ensure that the materials are fully adapted to pure entertainment from their roots, making them educationally rigorous.
“I think this is just a redesign of what they did for the public audience in the mall,” she pointed out. “If they want to connect this story about an alien zoo, then say,’Well, you are a new explorer in this new place, so let us use our knowledge of biology to determine, you know, is this a kind of Mammals, or whether this fits our different categories on earth. They definitely have a narrative, but I don’t think they adjusted for this situation.”
She said she will pay attention to this new project and believe that as VR matures, it will find a place in the classroom.
“I think it’s really interesting because one of the limitations of laboratory work is access to equipment,” she added. “So if every student can turn around and run something through GCMS [Gas Chromatography Mass Spectroscopy] Equipment, or you can run all the tests you want in your virtual reality world, “This will be a real revolution for education.
“All new technologies will have a learning curve and a development curve,” she added. “I am very happy to see the rise of these partnerships, but I also hope that there are educators at the core who can not only promote the experience, but also promote the rigor behind the experience.”
Angilletta, one of the developers of ASU’s VR laboratory materials, said that his goal is to study the performance of students in the new laboratory compared to traditional teaching. He said that preliminary tests have found that the learning effect has increased by 18%.
“I think this is its selling point,” he said. “Other than showing them the data, I will not try to convince people.”