Wednesday, July 13, 2016

What Labster is Doing so Right for Educational VR

Simulations are one of the most utilized strategies in the educational tool belt.  If you think about it, school in general is one big simulation of the real world.  "Okay kids, let's get started for the day, I want everyone to imagine for a second that you have been asked by your boss to create a proposal for . . ."
Almost everything that happens in school is an approximation of what the students might expect elsewhere in real life.  As an educator, my ultimate goal is to prepare my students to be successful upon leaving school.  Enter the art of the simulation.

It should be no surprise that software company Labster is helping to redefine educational technology with their science lab simulations.  Labster achieves a great balance of gameplay elements, quizzes, and interaction for the user.  One of the things that makes the Labster experience in VR so compelling is that their interactive labs were developed first as compelling educational experiences.  Add VR to the mix and it becomes clear why they have received such glowing support in the last few years.  When you enter the demo C.S.I. lab in Labster for the Gear VR, your lab assistant reminds you that the equipment that you are using "costs hundreds of thousands of dollars in real life but in the virtual world, you can use them again and again."  The game continues to remind you that you won't break anything but you can get an approximation of how it would be to use the equipment in real life.  Since VR brings us one step closer to having real, tangible experiences from the classroom or the couch or wherever, I can't think of a better medium than VR for educational simulations.
The level of engaging simulations that VR can create for education is perhaps a litmus test for the success that educational VR can accomplish in the classroom.  Most teachers who are enthusiastic about using technology in their instruction are looking for what is new and what can revolutionize the way that they teach.  VR certainly has that potential and companies like Labster are paving the way for what true immersive educational simulations have to offer.

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of sitting down and talking with Jan Ståhlberg from Labster who reminded me that "science is beautiful."  Labster's approach to helping us see the beauty of life sciences through VR should exist as a call to all educational software developers to show us the beauty in their craft, and the beauty of learning, oh yeah, and do it in VR already. :)