The Doctor’s Library
Forbes’ contributor, Bernard Marr, states in his article Extended Reality In Education, the 5 ways VR And AR will change the way we learn at school, at work, and in our personal lives. Immersive technologies such as virtual reality (VR) have altered how viewers interact with films. It enables viewers to actively engage with the content while also giving them the autonomy to advance the narrative arc through their actions. In his article, Marr states, “Some people are visual learners, after all, which means the ability to “see” a process (rather than read or hear about it) is far more impactful for them.”
When a COVID-19 global pandemic struck on March 11, 2020, it caused concern all over the world, particularly in educational institutions. How would students engage with their professors and learning materials? What would this mean in terms of actually “learning”? “This is where virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) can add real value to the learning process,” states Marr.
The Learning Experiment:
Because the coronavirus is still relatively new, many people are unaware of the virus and its role in reducing their risk of contracting and transmitting the virus. In this project, we designed an environment in which the user’s journey begins at a future “doctor’s library,” where the doctor teaches you more about the virus and advises you to take the vaccine. The decision to take the vaccine or not is entirely up to the user. Here’s a quick demonstration of how the journey would appear if the vaccine was used:
After carefully listening to the audio and making their decision, the user is taken to a different scene where they see the impact of their decisions. For example, if the user chooses to take the vaccine, then they are able to walk out in the open without the fear of contributing to spikes in cases and giving the virus more opportunities to mutate. This experience visually educates them and creates a learning environment about the virus and the vaccine in which they are more aware than they were at the beginning.
The setting of the environment
The world-building was initially just an option for the user to choose if they would like to take the vaccine or not. However, after careful consideration and user tests, it appeared to be more impactful with an engaging environment that would leave a visual impact on the user even after the end of the experience. Hence, following Marr’s 1 out of the 5 ways i.e. creating a more immersive experience.
As seen in the image above, the updated environment is of the user inside the “doctor’s library”. This is taking place way into the future, hence the surreal skybox of the blue sky. Through an audio introduction, the library provides three options for the user to pick from:
- Click on the door of the library to learn more about COVID-19 from the doctor.
- If you are already well aware of the virus, click on the candle next to the syringe on the table to take the vaccine.
- If you do not wish to take the vaccine, click on the book on the table.
With this, we followed Marr’s 2 and 3 out of the 5 ways i.e. enabling new trips in VR and transforming hands-on learning.
Planning, Experimentation, and User-tests
The planning of this initiative provided the user with three options in making a decision to take the vaccine: Yes OR I am unsure OR No.
Because the project is limited to the clips produced by other students in class, we had to consider what exactly would be more engaging to the audience. Below is the story development as we experimented on the storyline:
After user-tests within the class with the professor, teaching assistant, and classmates, the following changes were made:
- Adding further instruction for the user, such as buttons and texts in the intro and the outro. Any user outside the class is unaware of the storyline, hence make it clearer.
- Adding clearer and smoother audio instructions for the user to understand and embrace the surroundings more.
Updated goal: Creating a simpler and smoother transition for the user!
This project was created in Unity as part of a class project in Professor Mariam Rafehi’s Immersive Virtual Reality course and tested among our classmates to develop and understand the importance of a learning experience in a VR environment.
In the future, we would like to make the following changes:
- Open up more space for adding scenes/ clips that are not limited to the classroom production. This will build it to be innovative enough for educational purposes in different classrooms. This will improve the workplace training.
- Developing a simpler and realistic version that will enhance the lifelong learning experience. An example that I would like to follow is the award-winning VR provider VirtualSpeech that has created a VR tool to help people practice public speaking in a more immersive, realistic way (Marr, 2021).
By making the above changes, we will have completed the 5 ways VR And AR will change the way we learn at school, at work, and in our personal lives.