Virtual Reality (VR) headsets allow users to explore simulated worlds. While commonly used for video games, virtual reality has many applications in education and experience, such as medical simulations, training in simulated situations, and experiencing artistic and historical displays. Headsets come in both tethered (attached to a computer) and standalone (either containing a mobile device or being self-contained) models, with common brands including the Oculus and the HTC Vive.
Beyond headsets, a more passive (and less expensive) form of virtual reality comes in the form of 360-degree (or 3D) videos. These videos, unlike a traditional 2D video, allow the viewer to rotate their view, seeing all around them. Many are also compatible with VR headsets, especially housings such as Google's Cardboard.
The Baldwin Library currently has an HTC Vive virtual reality headset. This headset was made available thanks to the generosity of the Georgia Public Library Service. Headset trials are available to faculty via a drop-in reservation system. The headset will also be featured during International Games Week (November 4th-7th).
To reserve a faculty drop-in appointment, use this link and select "Drop-In Librarian- Tifton" and select a librarian from the drop-down menu. Please include your name and any other required information when placing the reservation. Note that drop-in appointments must be placed 48 hours in advance.
While video games and entertainment are still some of the most common applications for virtual reality, many educational and experiential VR programs exist. Virtual reality allows the user to visit places- and times- that they otherwise would not be able to see, as well as providing risk-free practice experiences- like surgery without needing to put a patient at risk. Some educational sites and programs include:
Google Expeditions: Google's Expeditions program allows for both virtual reality and augmented reality experiences in the classroom to easily bring the outside world into the classroom. Requiring only a smartphone app and optionally a standalone VR housing (such as a Google Cardboard kit), Expeditions provides an inexpensive first step into VR in the classroom.
Google Arts and Culture: The Arts and Culture site on Google provides 360 degree videos of artistic and cultural presentations, viewable in a web browser or using a VR housing (i.e. Google Cardboard) or VR headset.
Stanford University's Virtual Human Interaction Lab: The Virtual Human Interaction Lab provides both downloadable VR experiences which explore social issues, as well as the scholarly discourse to support these experiences. Featured programs include an Ocean Acidification Experience, "Becoming Homeless: A Human Experience", and "Coral Compass: Fighting Climate Change in Palau".
NOAA Virtual Dives: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration provides galleries of 360 degree images of eight marine sanctuaries, allowing users to view immersive panoramic images using their computers or a virtual reality headset. Functional with standalone VR housings for phones or dedicated VR headsets.
Discovering Farmland Virtual Experiences: This site provides 360-degree videos of agricultural topics such as technology in agriculture.
Dreams of Dalí: The Salvador Dalí Museum has created a virtual reality exploration of Dalí's painting Archaeological Reminiscence of Millet's "Angelus" which allows viewers to enter the painting and view the surrealist master's work. The full VR experience can be viewed using an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, while a linear 360-degree video is also available.
YouVisit: YouVisit provides virtual tours of college campuses, museums, events, and more. These tours are presented as either virtual reality experiences (requiring a VR headset or viewer) or 360-degree images.
Medical Holodeck Anatomy Master: Anatomy Master provides medically accurate models of male and female bodies which users can interact with to see various body parts and virtually dissect a human being. Compatible with all full VR headsets.
These links provide access to current VR and virtualization projects, as well as discussing their impact on education.
USF Access 3D Lab Projects: The University of South Florida's Access 3D Lab uses 3D scanning to create virtualized models of artifacts and to recreate historical sites. Read about their projects here.
The Presence of the Past: The Possibilities of Virtual Reality for History: This article discusses the use of virtual reality in history classes, including the digital reconstruction of destroyed cultural heritage sites and viewing historical sites in three dimensions to take students on virtual field trips.