Researchers have explored the application and benefits of Virtual Reality (VR) for education for several years (Radianti et al., 2020). VR technologies are being utilized for teaching and training both in and out of the classroom. Through networked VR, Social VR platforms can provide shared virtual environments for social interaction and collaboration (Matthews et al., 2021). Researchers have investigated the use of Social VR platforms in remote learning contexts for remote lectures (Yoshimura et al., 2020; Hopp, et al., 2020 ) and virtual student poster sessions (Holt et al., 2020).
Matthews et al. (2021) describe three primary benefits of VR technology: presence, interactivity, and immersion. Presence describes the feeling of “being there”. Interactivity is the ability to modify an environment in real-time. Immersion can be defined as the interplay of presence and interactivity. In a Social VR environment, these qualities can be experienced with others sharing the remote virtual environment.
Video conferencing is a typical solution for remote learning. Zoom is commonly used for remote lectures and workshops. However, researchers have found a number of issues with video conferencing with respect to social interaction and remote presence among participants (Matthews et al., 2021; Yoshimura et al., 2020).
Emre Erturk with Brad Taylor and Noor Alani
Emre Erturk joined EIT in 2011. He earned his PhD from the University of Oklahoma in 2007. Emre has experience teaching in distance learning as well as face-to-face. He also has a background in institutional research. Emre won the CEO’s Research Award in 2017. Recently, he has held a number of leadership roles in community organizations, the Royal Society of New Zealand, and CITRENZ (Computing and Information Technology Research and Education New Zealand).
Before moving to New Zealand, Brad has spent 25 years working as a software developer, devops engineer, and startup founder. He founded Rails Machine in 2005 to provide managed cloud and devops services for high-growth applications built with Ruby on Rails. He was a co-founder of ReactiveOps, a Kubernetes-based product and service startup. Before joining startup life, Brad worked as a software engineer focused on GIS database and server technology for ESRI. He is currently pursuing a Masters Degree in Information Technology at the Eastern Institute of Technology in Hawkes Bay with a strong interest in XR, cultural heritage, and storytelling platforms.