Nov, 2020 - By WMR
Virtual reality has become one of the most mainstream technologies, which is being used in a plethora of fields including gaming, entertainment, and even education. Ever since its mainstream applications in the early 21st century, virtual reality has evolved massively with the addition of new features and tricks. When numerous tech giants are trying their luck with VR, one of the most esteemed newspaper companies such as The New York Times do not want left behind. The NYT has been actively involved in VR technology since 2015 when it first introduced a novel form of storytelling called ‘virtual reality journalism’. The documentary called ‘The Displaced’ was released, which told the story of three children torn in the middle of war and persecution who were forced to exile their homelands. Following that documentary, NYT has been focused on launching its own virtual reality module to teach New York Times 360 VR videos.
Following the release of that documentary, the New York Times has introduced a series of 360-degree videos that provide users a whole new level of experience. The video encompasses a serene experience of Antarctica to Ethiopia as well as deep, plunging depths of the ocean to the dwarf planet Pluto. NYT’s virtual reality guide is easy to understand and use it in practice. With the Times’ 360-degree videos, students are no longer spectators rather they are participants. VR is creating an immersive and evocative experience to nurture curiosity and emotional connection, which is difficult to find in other mediums of learning. This guide has two parts of learning namely 1: frameworks for teaching with VR and 2: a set of eight lesson plans based on an NYT VR Video.
NYT has included eight lesson plans for students in the STEM field as well as humanities classes. These lessons can be taught in one or two class periods. Each lesson is an NYT VR video, including numerous activities before, during, and after the lesson. Furthermore, NYT has added practical lessons as well for students. There is a number of academic skills associated with STEM and humanities. These videos can be further used to teach skills such as predictions and observations, descriptive writing, discussions and claims, and also asking media literacy questions. NYT has also suggested a few learning strategies as it believes VR is experimental learning rather than plain video watching. Teachers can assign students different roles such as astronauts or deep-sea divers or even museum curators and let them decode the experience on their own.
There are certain technologies you would require namely high-speed, uninterrupted internet connection for VR experiences that can be streamed or downloaded, mobile devices to access the content, VR headsets, and headphones. NYT also cautions its users regarding the safety protocols while accessing the 360-degree videos. There some things users should and shouldn’t do such as not standing up, no flailing of legs and hands around, etc. Moreover, if you feel dizzy or getting headaches, remove the headsets. NYT is offering numerous lessons including ‘A Mission to Pluto’, ‘Memorials and Justice’, ‘Four Antarctic Expeditions’, and many more. VR is definitely the future of education and NYT is indeed making massive progress to further the experience in education.