Virtual reality (VR) is continuing to grow in both popularity and accessibility. And more and more higher education institutions are embracing VR technology. According to Internet2’s 2018 VR/AR in Research and Education Study, 28% of higher education institutions are integrating VR into their campuses, and that number is only going up.
With easy mobile access and affordable VR viewing hardware, more and more universities and colleges will find utility in offering immersive experiences for prospective students. But there are many different uses for VR. And once an education institution has proven some success in one area, the use of VR in applications like facilities management, fundraising, and other applications will become much more common.
Following are four applications for VR of the ways that higher education institutions can use and benefit from virtual reality.
Non-profit and governmental organizations like the United Nations and Charity:Water have used VR for successful fundraising campaigns. And the same model can be used for fundraising in education. With VR, alumni and other donors can actually experience new buildings, grounds, and even programs years before they become reality.
Students come from near and far to go to college. There are so many different schools for students to pick from, which can make the decision process difficult and lengthy. One way that colleges can better reach prospective students is by improving online visibility, and making it easy and fun for prospective students to explore the campus in-depth. With virtual reality, colleges can become more than words or statistics on a webpage.
Virtual reality allows prospective students to actually see a campus without having to physically be there. For example, in 2015 the Savanna College of Art and Design sent out Google Cardboard viewers to 30,000 accepted students and the school saw a 26% increase in admissions within a year of beginning the program. Texas A&M University also used VR to highlight its campus and unique global programs during SXSW in 2017.
Virtual reality’s potential doesn’t stop once students arrive on campus. Classrooms are the perfect place for virtual reality to help students learn in a more immersive way – from virtual field trips to anatomy and geology – the applications in the classroom are endless.
Immersive technology can create learning experiences that go beyond the textbook and allow students to visualize what they are reading about. For example, Case Western Reserve University has integrated VR into its health education campuses, so students can better visualize anatomy. Using holographic demonstration glasses students can travel through the human body to analyze parts like the heart, brain, and cardiovascular system.
Perhaps nothing creates buzz like athletics, and any university or college with a serious athletics program can benefit from virtual reality. From giving real-life images of what it’s like to sit in certain seats during a game, to offering behind-the-scenes VR tours of pre-game and the athletics facilities, it’s easy to get people excited about the school through athletics, and perhaps even get more people out to the games.