Student Perceptions of Virtual Reality Usage in a University Classroom Using “Google Earth VR”

Authors: Patrick D Hagge*, Arkansas Tech University
Topics: Geography Education, Higher Education
Keywords: virtual reality, VR, geography education, Google Earth, classroom
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Roosevelt 7, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Virtual reality (“VR”) usage has increased exponentially over the last decade, particularly as immersive head-mounted displays have become available in the consumer market. VR applications are proving useful in education, and academic literature suggests that student performance in a particular course improves with the use of VR. While general usage of in-classroom VR is increasing in academic geography, more studies are needed to analyze the effectiveness of in-class VR and student perceptions of VR usage. Understanding student perceptions of classroom VR is of vital importance: if students exposed to in-class VR view the technologies as ineffective for higher education, of what use are such virtual environments? Exposure to in-class usage of virtual reality occurred in several face-to-face geography courses at Arkansas Tech University. At various times during lectures, students were exposed to the immersive “Google Earth VR” app using the HTC Vive head-mounted display. Individual students used Google Earth VR to virtually visit places of interest in that day’s lecture, and the video output of such movement was displayed on a classroom projector in real-time. Student perception of VR effectiveness in a university geography classroom setting was recorded through two surveys of all enrolled students near the beginning and the end of a semester. The results speak to the future applicability of virtual reality devices in a geography classroom in a university setting.

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