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Virtual reality and interactive 360​​° videos in teaching

Virtual reality and 360° videos allow for illustrating hard-to-get-at, remote, dangerous, restricted, or in an another way inaccessible locations to students.

About the project

It can be difficult for students acquiring knowledge of how theory is applied in practice. Therefore, with this project we wanted to put theory into practice.

Using educational IT combined with the new possibilities of virtual reality (VR) based on 360​​° video and the Google Cardboard standard, it is now easy and cheap to produce videos that include practice as an active part of the teaching. The format allows the students a real-life experience.

The videos can be integrated directly into Blackboard and thus included as a natural part of the teaching. Moreover, students with smartphones and VR glasses (the price starts at 10 DKK) can get an interactive 360​​° experience of materials, plants, or large systems.

Findings

Virtual visit to Lisbjerg Power and Heating Plant in Thermodynamics

The course Thermodynamics by associate professor Aage Birkkjær Lauritsen was further supported with interactive video material in the form of a virtual visit to Lisbjerg Power and Heating Plant, among other things with recordings of parts of the plant, which are otherwise unavailable when in operation.

The virtual visit is built around the water's route through the plant, thus gaining insight into thermodynamic processes. This creates an interesting and informative narrative. At the same time, the video can be experienced both in separate parts and as an overall experience. The video is implemented in the teaching and on the course page on Blackboard.

Below are examples of how to navigate the plant in the 360° videos and how to embed tests directly into the video:

Navigation from the top part of the oven at the Lisbjerg Power and Heating Plant.
Navigation from the top part of the oven at the Lisbjerg Power and Heating Plant.
Embedded test from the turbine casing at the Lisbjerg Power and Heating Plant.
Embedded test from the turbine casing at the Lisbjerg Power and Heating Plant.

Virtual visit to CERN in Theory of Relativity and Astrophysics

The course Theory of Relativity and Astrophysics by Astrophysicist Ole Eggers Bjælde and Professor Ulrik Ingerslev Uggerhøj were supported with a number of 360° videos from a visit to CERN in the summer of 2017. Subsequently, the videos were provided with a multiple choice test component.

The videos allowed students to get exploratory access to an otherwise inaccessible location, and by watching the videos, the students were activated by tests. This gave the students a tangible insight into how their theoretical knowledge had been translated into practice and allowed them to increase their reflection on the subject matter.

Additionally, the insight into the results of the test allowed the lecturer to adjust their teaching to the academic areas that needed extra attention and examination.

Below is a 360° video from CERN and an example of how to embed questions/tests:

Interactive 360° video from CERN on YouTube.
Interactive 360° video from CERN on YouTube.

Prospects

The potential of 360° video and VR is extensive. In particular, it can be used in depth to visualise hard-to-reach places, including remote, dangerous, costly, or access-restricted locations. The potentials for the use of educational IT for 360° video and VR is to bring students to places where it is otherwise not practical, as well as the medium can be used to enhance student learning.

The long-term prospects is that it is now possible to develop 360° video and VR with the support of the Media Lab at Science and Technology, and it can serve as a supplement to the type of education that needs to bring such 'out-of-reach places' into the classroom.

In addition to the opportunity to activate the academic content of courses in a different way, 360° video and VR will also give students insight into their professional field applied in a context outside the university and their education. This gives the students a more qualified insight into how their education can create value in practice and it increases the incentive to concern themselves with the academic areas.

Additionally, the format is expected to enable students to enter into a working context sooner, as they are trained to convert theory into practice. Thus, contribute to the link between university and work life.

Further readings

Acknowledgements

A thank you to our partners:

Ole Eggers Bjælde, Special Consultant, Science and Technology Learning Lab
Daniel Hvid, Lab agent, Science and Technology Learning Lab
Aage Birkkjær Lauritsen, Associate professor, Aarhus University School of Engineering - Fluid Mechanic
Ulrik Ingerslev Uggerhøj, Head of Department, Department of Physics and Astronomy


Would you like to implement 360° video/virtual reality in your teaching? Contact:

Mikkel Godsk

Educational developer, Media Lab supervisor