Friday, July 3, 2015

Virtual Reality Helps Bridge the Gap Between Online and In-person Learning - Noelle Phansalkar, Outer Places

Since the recent surge in virtual reality development, experts from all fields have been eager to study its potential impacts. Most recently, Conrad Tucker, Assistant Professor of Industrial Engineering and Engineering Design at Penn State, conducted a study to test whether using virtual reality would have a significant impact on online learning. Tucker selected the Oculus Rift for his purposes, undoubtedly due to its relative inexpensiveness and accessibility. He also fitted participants with a haptic glove, which allows the wearer to simulate the feel of virtual objects. The participant sample consisted of 54 undergraduate engineering students who were tasked with assembling a virtual coffee pot from a number of disparate pieces. Half undertook this task with the help of the virtual reality hardware, while the other half used a simple computer program. The results were unsurprising; the mean completion time for the control group was 49.04 seconds, while the mean time for the group using V.R. was 23.21 seconds - less than half the time.

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