VR environments provide students with the opportunity to be immersed in a highly realistic, vivential first-person learning experience that only requires a VR headset.
Once the student puts on the headset, she/he is transported to the context relevant for his/her learning. Inside interactive VR environments, the student will make decisions that will determine the course of the learning experience. With each decision made, the student receives feedback.
Learning to learn: Rather than being the passive spectator of the learning material, this VR approach implements active and self-directed learning. Of note, this places the student at the center of the learning activity and allows the student to build his/her own learning based on his/her decisions and feelings. The student can go back at any moment to revisit parts of the learning experience or rollback already-taken decisions to compare different consequences. In this way, the student self-regulates his/her learning, which is a key dimension to Learning to Learn.
Interpersonal and socioemotional skills: VR scenarios can help to improve both interpersonal and socioemotional skills (and other similar ones). Communication, empathy, and conflict management are some of the best dimensions of interpersonal and socioemotional skills that can be worked out within VR scenarios.
For instance, imagine a situation in which a student plays the role of an employee who has been called to a meeting to explain a problem to his/her manager. The student needs to choose among three stereotyped managers, each one of which responds to a particular communicative style (aggressive, assertive, or passive). In this scenario, students choose and then practice which kind of messages generate which kind of situations, and how to deal with these situations.
VR scenarios are also ideal empathy enhancers, bringing students into roles that, in real life, would be difficult to find themselves in. For example, nursing students can play the patient role in an admission process, allowing them to attend the process from the “other side” of the counter. This allows students to experience first-hand feelings and emotions triggered by different situations.
Critical & creative thinking: Interactive VR environments are ideal for working on problem-solving skills. Students face complex multi-branched scenarios in which they need to make a series of decisions to solve a problem. Only one or a few scenario branches lead to a solution, so students must explore several of them while reflecting on the decisions that took them to that point. Students should be encouraged to perform a critical analysis of the situation, which can be further expanded in a debriefing once the scenario has been finished. VR environments provide an effective way to develop TS. Having this form of learning available is especially critical in times when social contact is restricted, such as during the Covid-19 pandemic, and when traditional role-playing activities are difficult to carry out.
The use of VR environments can be very effective to further develop Transversal Skills. Recent studies have underlined several advantages of VR learning as compared to non-VR learning:
- Retention: VR yields an 80% retention rate at one year after training; in stark contrast, traditional training yields a 20% one after only one week.
- Confidence: VR users are 275% more confident in decision-making for daily activities than traditional users.
- Emotion: Immersive VR experiences promote empathy, resulting in 3.75× more emotionally-connected users.
- Focus and speed: Learners using VR are 4× more focused than conventional, passive e-learners. Content is transmitted 4× faster, without any distractions
In ITSHEC project we are going to produce three resources that are freely available. We are working on three Transversal Skills: critical and creative thinking, interpersonal/socio-emotional and citizen-oriented skills and learning to learn, so we will produce a VR Resource for each of them. First and second scenarios (Interpersonal and socio-emotional skills VR experience and Learning to learn VR experience) are already done. We are working on the third one, Critical and Creative Thinking VR experience. These resources are available for free in a mobile application that user can download from Google Play and App Store.
Google Play (Android): https://www.immersiumstudio.com/itshecvr/index.html
App Store (IOS): https://apps.apple.com/ie/app/itshec-vr-learning/id6447622213
This is the user manual to use ITSHEC VR Resources
Download pdf here.
The ITSHEC project aims to improve the training of healthcare and social services professionals in transversal skills throughout the undergraduate and postgraduate training journey. ITSHEC is co-funded by the Erasmus+ project of the European Union.
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