Essential Question: How can immersive virtual reality enhance gamification?
According to Juho Hamari (2014), “Flow – a state of optimal experience characterized being fully focused and engaged in an activity – has been regarded as one of the most important psychological outcomes of gamification and games.” For students who might not be able to create vivid imagery of an experience, time, or place they have never had the opportunity to see first-hand, virtual reality might be just the tool to provide the link they need to allow them to step up into the state of Flow during gamification experiences in class. Virtual reality is the use of computer technology to create a simulated environment, placing the user inside an experience (Jackson, 2015).
Imagine a U.S history unit where students are learning about the expedition of Lewis and Clark. Sure, they could read the journals and related writings. Some students, those with a natural curiosity about history and good reading skills, would likely retain some information from the lessons. What about the other students though? How can they be engaged, and how can the students who are interested become engaged on a deeper level?
I’m sure there is a fantastic way to gamify this experience. Quests and side quests seem natural to this type of activity, as well as XP. For a kid from Western Alaska who has never ventured further from home than Bethel, how much better would this experience be with the addition of virtual reality? For a student living in Florida who has never touched snow, how much more will the student gain by experiencing the staggering heights of the Rocky Mountains? There are games which try to simulate the journey of these explorers (Go West Across America with Lewis and Clark – http://www.nationalgeographic.com/west/), but how much more powerful would it be for a class to put on a set of Google Cardboards (https://vr.google.com/cardboard/get-cardboard/) and float down a raging river or walk across the endless prairie?
What are Google Cardboards? As defined by Chifor and Stefanut (2015) they are, “an affordable, cardboard made, Virtual Reality headset that uses a smart phone as the screen…a piece of cardboard cut into a precise shape, two 40 mm focal distance lenses and a ring-magnet combo for triggering actions. The lenses are set back from where the phone is placed at a precise distance so that they can each observe only half of the smart phone screen.” At $15 a pair ($5 on sale), even having a few pairs available for students to share seems like a fantastic way to broaden and deepen the learning experiences of our students through virtual reality technology.
Hamari, J. (2014, August 13). Flow in gamification. Gamification Research Network. Retrieved from http://gamification-research.org/2014/08/flow/
Jackson, B. Ph.D. (2015, June 3). What is virtual reality? [Definitions and examples]. Retrieved from http://www.marxentlabs.com/what-is-virtual-reality-definition-and-examples/