As part of team three, we are working towards a better understanding of virtual reality (VR) and the affordances it brings to education. Specifically, I want to explore the pedagogical implications of virtual reality and help remove the cyclical nature of technology “be[ing] used in old ways before its unique characteristics are recognized” (Weller, 2020, p. 64). Much of my readings have been focused on this approach. Three avenues need to be explored in terms of the relationship between technology and pedagogical affordances. These three avenues are: (1) the affordances that offer that are solely unique to the technology, (2) the pedagogical implications these affordances create in developing new learning experiences, and (3) the natural resistance to change that impedes adoption of such technologies. For this course, I will focus my attention on the pedagogical implications, often eluding to the other two points as they will be needed in conjunction to push a specific issue or argument. 

One of the cornerstone readings I will use to explore and focus my academic endeavours is Fowler’s article on virtual reality and pedagogy (2015). This article focuses on using two affordances, representational fidelity, the ability for the program to deliver experiences to a multitude of senses, and learner interactions, the richness of the different interactions resulting in an embodiment experience (Dalgarno & Lee, 2010). However, I question the necessity of representational fidelity as a vital affordance in virtual reality experiences. For example, a person who experiences virtual reality does not need a visually stimulating world to become immersed in the simulation. To this person, it is more important that the artifical world behaves as expected. High fidelity graphics and haptic-based touch feedback undoubtingly can add to the experience, but the core affordance is the ability to create such a virtual reality that the user feels they are there (Southgate, 2020, p. 121); this leads me into my second avenue, the pedagogical implications of using virtual reality as an educational tool.

Fowler asserts that by marrying Dalgarno and Lee’s learning affordances with a pedagogical framework, the learning specifications can be addressed in a model called the enhanced model of learning in 3D virtual learning environments (2015). He used Mayes and Fowler’s framework (1999), which is akin to the revised version of Bloom’s taxonomy, to map specific stages of learning with their technological affordances in virtual reality (Fowler, 2015, p. 418). However, such an approach sterilizes the learner’s experience to specific learning specifications and does not take into account the diverse nature of learning and the shifts that virtual reality may afford. I view this approach as more of a stepping stone to give stability to the hesitant and unsure, to create a sense of normality in the chaos of change for would-be innovators to grasp as they navigate the emerging technology.

References

Dalgarno, B., & Lee, M. J. W. (2010). What are the learning affordances of 3-D virtual environments? British Journal of Educational Technology, 41(1), 10–32. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8535.2009.01038.x

Fowler, C. (2015). Virtual reality and learning: Where is the pedagogy? British Journal of Educational Technology46(2), 412–422. https://doi.org/10.1111/bjet.12135

Mayes, J., & Fowler, C. (1999). Learning technology and usability: A framework for understanding courseware. Interacting with Computers, 11(5), 485–497. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0953-5438(98)00065-4

Southgate, E. (2020). Virtual reality in curriculum and pedagogy: Evidence from secondary classrooms. Routledge.