Virtual Reality and Its Applications in Vocational Education and Training
The main aim of the chapter is to present how virtual reality is used in activities for making education more attractive to young generations. This chapter presents three projects supported by the European Commission under the program Erasmus+ (or predecessor), namely, AVARES – “Enhance attractiveness of renewable energy training by virtual reality,” VR4STEM – “Virtual Reality for STEM Entrepreneurship Training,” and World of Physics – “An innovative virtual reality educational environment for school physics education,” which focus on the implementation of Virtual Reality and 3D Virtual Worlds for different types of education and training.
The AVARES project integrates a developed virtual world with a traditional Learning Management System (LMS), represented by Moodle, for more attractive learning in the challenging field of Renewable Energy Sources (RES). The hybrid educational platform developed in AVARES project combines traditional online learning procedures offered to students via Moodle, acting as a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), with learning procedures delivered to students in 3D Virtual World. The Virtual World is developed in Open Simulator (OpenSim), an open source platform for creating multi user 3D Virtual Worlds. VLE focuses on the management of the learning material processes, whereas the Virtual World environment offers students the ability to interact and experiment with items and constructs in a similar way they would do in real world.
The VR4STEM project aims to assist young people to gain entrepreneurship skill in STEM domain and the related ICT industry. The project’s main aim is to offer an educational environment for teaching/learning STEM entrepreneurship aspects that uses advanced ICT-based educational methods, like 3D virtual reality-based ones. This leads to more attractive ways of teaching, through the Virtual 3D World that is developed, and hence to more effective ICT-based teaching and training. The VR4STEM project offers to young people the chance to improve understanding and skills on STEM entrepreneurship, using augmented technologies and contributes in improving the quality of learning.
The World of Physics project aims to assist students in studying physics domain with the utilization of innovative technologies like virtual reality. Specifically, a 3D virtual reality educational environment is developed possessing innovative educational infrastructure, offering immersive and efficient learning opportunities, engaging students in various educational activities, learning scenarios, and offering students an attractive, entertaining and efficient way to learn various topics of the challenging domain of physics. The students have the ability to virtually visit laboratories, perform experiments, explore procedures, and examine the ways that are conducted. The virtual educational environment and the laboratories are designed in a way that supports students to create appropriate mental models of the involved concepts. This is achieved by offering visualizations of phenomena and processes in the form of interactive virtual representations of them. This contributes in more effective ICT-based teaching and training and also offers new, more attractive ways of teaching, through the Virtual 3D World that is developed. Students can improve their understanding and skills on physics with the use of advanced ICT (like virtual reality technology), thus improving the quality of education and learning.
KeywordsTechnology enhanced learning Virtual reality STEM education Entrepreneurship Virtual reality 3D virtual world Avatar
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