Hello! My name is Ashley, and I am a 19 year old student at the University of Nebraska. My first experience with virtual reality (VR) was definitely very different from what I expected. I thought that it would be just like playing video games while holding the screen very close to your face. I was not expecting to be immersed into the world of a video game. I was very pleasantly surprised, and within the context of my job, I was immediately thinking of how I would have responded to this as a ten year old kid. It would have been quite the experience.
Currently, I’m working on standard operating procedures (SOP’s) in order to introduce high school kids to virtual reality, and all the possibilities that come with it. It was my first experience writing an SOP and working with VR, so everything was a little green for me. We were specifically writing about medium, in which you can draw/sculpt/create in 3D. I personally thought the writing of it was generally easy; the whole project turned into more of “what would be most beneficial to know for a person who has never done VR before?”. So we wrote about everything we came across- the general stuff on the headset and controllers to links to videos that explain how to use the most basic tools within medium.
I think the final SOP was great in a word document, but not so great in practice. Somewhere along the way we had forgotten who we were writing this for- high school students. Kids who had grown up playing video games their entire lives. When they came in to test everything, they spent their time better by just playing with the game then they did watching all of the instructional videos we had found. I think our original SOP would be great for those who haven’t had much contact with this type of technology before; with the kids it was easier to give them some form of direction, and then just let them figure it out.
Currently, I have just finished writing an SOP for a similar program called MasterpieceVR, which is also a creative type of game. Within this, I used the short tutorial built within the program, that just gave a basic rundown of the program, and left it at that. I think this was a good decision considering the inefficiency of writing lots of instructions for something that is easier to learn by doing.
Currently, my coworkers (Matt and Matt) are working on doing Minecraft in VR. As they were surprised to hear, I have never played minecraft before. Therefore, I am the designated ‘guinea pig’ for their SOP once it is finished. We assume most kids will have some experience with this game, because it is so popular, but in order to efficiently instruct people who have no experience (like me) they need a pair of fresh eyes to see what needs to be explained. Unfortunately, that means I am kept in the dark until the first exposure. From what I understand, the idea behind using minecraft is so that we can create a space where kids from all over the world can log onto the same server to create real life structures, like buildings and cities, which is super awesome. It sounds like they’re having some difficulties with the servers, and with some of the technology our college uses.
I think the entirety of this experience so far has just really opened my eyes to the opportunities within VR- not just for education, but everything. You could have meetings from all across the world, or create a to-scale solution to real word problems, all within VR. I think the work that we are doing is just the tip of the iceberg.