Penn State World Campus Implements 360-Degree Videos in Online Courses

UNIVERSITY PARK, PA – The Penn State World Campus uses 360-degree video and virtual reality for the first time to enhance the educational experience of online learners.

The technology was implemented into the curriculum of a graduate special education course during the summer semester at Penn State. Students can use a VR headset to watch 360 degree videos on a device such as a smartphone.

The course, Special Education 801, focuses on how teachers can respond to challenging behaviors, and 360-degree videos place students in a classroom where they see an instructor explain strategies for organizing the classroom the way best suited to the learning activity. Videos were produced using a 360-degree video camera and uploaded to the course in just a few days.

“There is something about putting on this headset and immersing yourself in your learning environment that allows you to make a deeper connection with what you are learning,” said Chris Millet, Director of Design Operations. learning from Penn State World Campus. “We’ve taken a leap forward in terms of how effectively these concepts are taught for a small amount of effort and expense. “

The aim is to see if students retain knowledge better using the immersive videos compared to a two-dimensional illustration created in PowerPoint, the original method of illustrating this content, which is still available. Students can also watch 360-degree videos on YouTube without a VR headset.

Millet said research conducted by his team has shown that concepts that have a spatial component that students can explore are the best applications for this technology.

The videos give students the opportunity to better understand the content and skills they are learning, said associate professor Katie Hoffman, who appears in the videos.

“The idea is for teachers to think about their goals for a lesson or activity and how they physically organize their rooms,” said Hoffman, who is also the coordinator of online special education programs. for the Penn State College of Education. “The 360-degree videos allow them to see it from the teacher’s point of view and from the student’s point of view. “

The idea of ​​using VR technology started with a group of World Campus learning designers. Designer Linas Mockus immediately thought of using it in the special education class.

“What could be better than going into a classroom and capturing the surroundings? ” he said. “The idea is that while you are immersed in this VR environment, you can control what you see and what you watch. “

Millet is optimistic about the possibility of implementing 360-degree videos in many of the courses offered online on the Penn State World Campus. The same group of World Campus Learning Designers are working on using technology for a lesson in an upper-level nursing course to help students identify potentially dangerous living spaces for older adults.

“We’re always thinking about the educational reasons we’re doing this, not just using the technology to use it,” Mockus said. “The 360 ​​video allows students to discover the virtual environment and to better understand the concepts. That is why we believe that it has great promise in online education.

  • Students can watch 360 degree videos on a device such as a smartphone using a VR headset.

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