About the Center

Before the Future of Childhood: Immersive Media and Child Development salon took place in November 2018, we invited experts to share their visions about the ways VR and AR might impact childhood 10 years from now. Chris Chin, Executive Director of VR Content at HTC Vive, believes VR has the potential to play a positive role in building pathways for more equitable learning opportunities.

 

From Ready Player One to The Matrix, authors, futurists, and Hollywood have painted a picture of how VR could evolve in our lives—a future VR-driven world predicated on the usual suspects that we already encounter today: corporate greed, technology, and ultimately control of free will. In contrast, I see a decidedly brighter vision of the future of VR, one in which education, equity, and empathy play an increasingly large role in shaping our future and that of our children.

Image: Apollo 11

For reference, we need only look at the rise of mobile to understand how quickly technology can evolve to shape our lives. The early days of smartphones yielded basic calendaring, to-do lists, and web access, all revolutionary at the time. The most popular app in 2007, the iPhone’s first year, was a koi fish pond mini-game. Today, phones and tablets are ubiquitous and almost essential to daily life. In education, textbooks, assignments, and multimedia lessons are increasingly distributed and consumed through these devices, which have become tremendous resources for learning and information.

While VR has been around for decades, the first consumer-level high-end VR devices that launched in 2016 are analogous to the initial cellular phone “bricks” that predate the state-of-the-art devices we have today. Today’s VR, powered by a PC, is nonetheless amazing. With roomscale VR, anyone with an HTC Vive Pro can walk around and explore a 33’x33’ virtual space in HD resolution without being tethered to the PC, already a significant improvement from two-and-a-half years ago. Hundreds of educational VR experiences exist where students can learn about the human heart in full immersive 3D, navigate a Lunar lander 50 years after the first moon landing, or discover the secrets of the ancient pyramids.

While mobile has afforded tremendous change, VR has the capacity to go even further in impacting education and as a tool for equity. We know that experiential learning in VR can decrease a student’s cognitive load and help improve learning outcomes. We know from Dale’s Cone of Experience that learning by doing is much more effective for memory retention than reading, watching, or listening. VR’s ability to simulate any environment and have the student learn by doing effectively levels the playing field for all learners, whether they be visual, auditory, reading/writing, or kinesthetic.

This bodes well for the future as the field of artificial intelligence rapidly emerges. When learners can process a lesson in the format in which they learn best, and that’s coupled with adaptive learning AI and built-in assessment feedback loops, truly personalized learning can be achieved and education parity starts to become a reality.

Thus, the potential for equity in education becomes closer to reality in 10 years, along with increased development of empathy in our students towards the plight of others. Already, VR is helping students break stigmas around race and homelessness. In the future, we will see VR foster empathy for the diversity of circumstances we individually experience, including gender, background, ethnicity, religion, or physical or cognitive disability.

Finally, from a hardware standpoint, we will see device form factors become smaller, lighter, and more “accessorized.” With the advent of 5G mobile networks, we will “cut the cord” entirely and our mobile VR devices will take on the form of visors/glasses that can be comfortably worn all the time, with pass-thru ability for an augmented/mixed reality experience. Eye tracking and new brain-computing interface (BCI) sensors will form the basis for new ways of interaction and control with our virtual environments. And haptics embedded in our clothes and gloves will provide physical feedback and a level of immersion far more engrossing and realistic than ever before.

I look forward to this future, with better ways of learning for our students, more opportunities for equity in education, and a pathway towards a more empathetic world.

 

Chris Chin is Executive Director of VR Content at HTC Vive. He has 20+ years leading product, content, and business operations in gaming, mobile, and ed tech. He is passionate about the potential of VR in education and currently heads up education content and strategic initiatives at HTC Vive. @chrisforevr

Recently posted by this author:

Education, Equity, and Empathy: A Brighter Vision of the Future of VR

May 21, 2019

Before the Future of Childhood: Immersive Media and Child Development salon took place in November 2018, we invited experts to share their visions about the ways VR and AR might impact childhood 10 years from now. Chris Chin, Executive Director of VR Content at HTC Vive, believes VR has the … 







The Promise of Game-Based Assessment in Early Childhood Education

May 17, 2019

This guest post by Anusha Subramanyam, PhD, BCBA-D and Tammy Kwan of Cognitive Toybox describes results from a pilot study in which Cognitive ToyBox, a game-based assessment program, was implemented in preschool classrooms to help teachers monitor their students’ progress.   Early childhood education programs require accurate, ongoing assessment to … 







Can We Build Strength and Empathy Through Games?

May 14, 2019

The stories that have emerged from the STEM School Highlands Ranch and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte shootings over the past few weeks have been heartbreaking. There is the story of sixth grader Nate Holley, who put his hand on a metal baseball bat, “just in case … … 







Virtual, Augmented, and Mixed Reality and Kids: Planning Ahead for a Positive Future

May 6, 2019

Do you remember when Niantic’s Pokémon GO was released in summer 2016 and how a craze with kids and families ensued? Are you excited for Harry Potter: Wizards Unite to be released sometime later this year and expect it to be a similar hit? Perhaps you’ve heard of Google Expeditions, … 







Immersive Media and Child Development: Synthesis of a Cross-Sectoral Meeting on Virtual, Augmented, and Mixed Reality and Young Children

May 6, 2019

What do we know about immersive media—virtual, augmented, mixed, and cross realities (VR, AR, MR, and XR)—and young children? So far, designers, developers, and media producers have been focusing on creating hardware, software, and content for and conducting studies with adolescents and adults—but children find these technologies incredibly appealing. How … 







Preschool Science at Home: PEEP Family Science Apps Help Low-Income Families Engage in Digital Learning

May 1, 2019

A growing body of research points to the importance of engaging children in science from an early age, for both their future trajectories in science careers and school readiness. For some children, preschool provides the chance to engage in meaningful science learning. But, for the 46% of American 3- and … 







Common Sense Media Invites Sesame Street to a #DeviceFreeDinner

April 24, 2019

I remember so well the days when my now-grown daughter was a little girl learning to count and read and taking in life lessons from the beloved characters on Sesame Street about how to be a good, caring person. Back then, she could only watch Sesame Street on our one … 







Tapping the Magic of Childhood to Design Playful STEAM Experiences

April 5, 2019

The experience of childhood During the initial phase of onboarding and professional development exercises with the SparkleLAB team, we spend a good part of our time remembering the experience of childhood. Growing up in the Philippines in the 80’s and 90’s, my fondest childhood memories are those of the rainy … 







VR and AR for Children: The Eyes of the Next Generation

March 5, 2019

Before the Future of Childhood: Immersive Media and Child Development salon took place in November 2018, we invited experts to share their visions about the ways VR and AR might impact childhood 10 years from now. Jesse Schell is the CEO of Schell Games, the largest full-service education and entertainment game development company … 







Intentional Design for Digital Inclusion: Developing Energetic Alpha for Preschoolers

February 28, 2019

Children’s literature is not known for its diversity—either in terms of diverse characters within books, diverse authors and illustrators, or diverse staff within the publishing industry. Nancy Larrick’s famous article, “The All White World of Children’s Books,” was published in 1965, and sadly, the situation is not that different today. …