The multi-disciplinary sustainability course at the University of Helsinki tested an alternative way of completing the project work using virtual reality (VR) technology. Students were given the opportunity to use Oculus2 virtual glasses in Meta’s Horizon Workroom application for group meetings where they planned their own course presentation. The goal of the experiment was to evaluate the usability and ease of use of the devices and the efficiency of working in virtual space.
The experiment was part of the University of Helsinki’s Global Campus project, led by EdTech Expert Jussi Wright. The teacher responsible for the course was the university lecturer Rami Ratvio from HELSUS. From the tested alternatives, Meta’s Horizon Workroom application was chosen for the actual use test. The program was chosen in part because of the features and its more limited ability to move, which helped to focus on meeting work instead of moving around in free space.
The students who participated in the experiment generally enjoyed the experience and found working in VR mode to be beneficial. The feeling of presence in the virtual meeting was considered to be better than in traditional video meetings, and the meeting atmosphere was felt to be more intense. However, the use of the VR glasses and the program were considered challenging at first, and it was suggested that there should be more time allocated for practice before the course begins.
The Horizon Workroom application also allows for recording meetings, sharing text and image files, and even has the option for one student to act as the organizer and update the agenda on the virtual meeting room’s wall. It’s the perfect blend of technology and organization to enhance the learning experience.
Overall, this experiment demonstrated the potential of VR technology in group work and highlighted the importance of preparing students before using such technology in class. With the right tools and training, VR technology can be a powerful tool to enhance the learning experience, collaboration and improve group work outcomes.