Virtual reality

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The human brain has evolved to learn most effectively by actively engaging its environment and using all its senses for feedback. Thus it is virtual reality (or virtual simulation) that provides our greatest hope of tapping into human learning potential. The future of learning may indeed be virtual worlds, built to teach and practice anything a human would wish to know. Creating enough virtual worlds to represent the massive Wikipedia databases could only be possible with the "any one can contribute" philosophy that made Wikipedia so successful. Each section here attempts to address the various challenges faced by the world community if we ever hope to establish Wikiversity's WikiWorlds project as THE way to learn.

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The Hardware[edit]

The hardware needs to be cheap and compact enough to be easily brought into people's homes. Ideally, all the components could fit into a package the size of printer box. Luckily the necessary hardware already exists.

  • Video Goggles/Glasses, rather than a large and obtrusive display [1]
  • Input Devices that are intuitive and engaging [2]. Note that the motion detection technology in these devices could be used to also track head movements, an important part of allowing the user to turn their head and have the display change. Note the PS3 move may need to be modified to allow input from TWO cameras, since virtual reality users will often rotate in their chair away from one camera (see next point).
  • Other older existing technologies, including headphones, a microphone (for voice commands and typing), and even a simple swivel chair (to allow the user to rotate in all directions and see all around the virtual world). Of course, even these simple technologies come in varieties especially conducive to VR (for example, this chair)

The Virtual Worlds[edit]

A database of virtual learning worlds. Obviously a wiki community could provide all of the content, and so the real challenge is to program a "world builder" that is intuitive and fun enough for the community to use. One source of inspiration may be the level creator in Little Big Planet[3], a title for the Sony PS3.

Learning Principles[edit]

Virtual Worlds should focus on using well established learning principles:

  • Free recall is a better way to review than recognition (e.g. short answer versus multiple choice)