VR – This is the latest episode of our new podcast series on the future of higher education. You can subscribe in iTunes to get prior and future episodes. After this episode, we’ll be going on summer break, but we’ll be working on new episodes and hope to be back in the fall. Help us make the show better by answering our short survey.
Do you remember Second Life? Ten years ago, it was one of the hottest tech buzzwords. For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, because it was a long time ago, it looked like a video game. It was an immersive virtual world, designed as a kind of visual social network.
The prediction at the time was that the internet might soon shift to be a kind of 3D, animated realm and we’d all use avatars, or customized drawings that would be our stand-ins in this virtual world. We’d move around cyberspace by walking, or maybe flying, from place to place. If it all sounds like science fiction, it sort of was — or at least it was kind of inspired by cyberpunk novels, like Snow Crash.
Major institutions invested real money in this vision. In 2006 it seemed like every big company was setting up a storefront in Second Life, and many colleges and universities invested tens of thousands of dollars building virtual campuses in this alternative digital reality.
Today we’re at another moment where virtual reality is being called the Next Big Thing. Two years ago, Facebook bought a company called Oculus, which makes a new kind of virtual-reality headset, for the attention-grabbing price tag of two billion dollars. And some are already saying that this technology will usher in the next generation of online education — that students and profs will soon be donning VR goggles to take online classes. Read More...