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Virtual Reality and the learner’s experience: An investigation of Virtual Reality in Higher Education teaching and learning


   School of Media, Culture & Society

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  Dr J McKechnie, Dr E Edgerton  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

This studentship is part of UWS Immersive, a multi-disciplinary university wide project that explores the potential of virtual, augmented and mixed reality technologies and experiences to transform the way UWS teaches, conducts research and engages with society.

Technology is at the heart of modern learning environments, workplaces and education systems. As such there is a growing research field in the application, and implications, of technology for the student learning experience. One of the most recent debates that has attracted attention has been the potential of virtual environments to enhance the learning experience.

Lopez (2016) provides some examples of the use of virtual reality in the field of education and in doing so highlights a key aspect of this technology’s ability to create “out of classroom experiences”, whilst still within the classroom environment. In Higher Education (HE) settings virtual environments have also been associated with skill training and development. For example, virtual, computer generated environments have been used to train dentists and medics for some time. However, little is known about the potential for this technology to enhance the learner’s experience in more traditional learning environments such as lectures, workshops, labs and seminars. It is now common in HE for students to re-visit learning materials following their delivery via online access to lecture slides, audio capture of lectures etc. We might add another approach to re-visiting this material through the provision of immersive 360 degree films of these events. A parallel situation may arise for individuals unable to physically attend certain classes. Would being able to access a live audio or video stream provide a comparable experience for students and how would this compare with being able to have an immersive experience of the class via virtual reality?

The current studentship provides the opportunity to explore this area and consider students’ experiences and perceptions of virtual reality versions of traditional forms of HE provision, evaluate approaches to learning within different learning environments and explore the introduction of immersive learning experiences in traditional HE subject areas.

As part of the UWS online application, candidates will be asked to submit a proposal, please submit a personal statement in place of the proposal.

Funding Notes

UWS is an inspiring, vibrant place to study with a growing research community; an important aspect of which is its outstanding and committed research students. The studentship offers an annual stipend of £14,553 per annum for three years and payment of tuition fees. Funding will be considered as part of a competitive round. Studentships are open to Home/EU candidates with a first degree in a relevant discipline. Non-EU students can apply, but will not receive the stipend and will be required to pay fees. Candidates must be available to commence their studies 1st October 2018.

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