Reading in VR
Virtual reality is a growing technology that has been expanding and captivating new audiences. Children and young people are an important part of these new audiences as they are undoubtedly eager to engage with this type of technology. However, there are many questions about how to support children’s best use of this new technology. With this spirit, we got involved in testing and understanding the use of VR in children. In 2016 we started exploring children’s perceptions about VR and whether the use of this technology had an impact on children’s reading comprehension results. On that study we found out that students that had poor reading comprehension skills (reported by the teachers) got better results when reading in VR. In addition, we were amazed when 97,5% of the students declared that they preferred VR as opposed to play in tablet or other consoles. For us, this study meant that it was worth looking at VR more closely, the children were clearly motivated towards this technology and the results on learning outcomes were promising. The children’s beliefs highlighted the potential uses of VR for education and described how important was the immersion. They mentioned how much they enjoyed exploring the world, interacting but also reading.
Our experience with children using VR is extremely positive, even though for many children was their first use of a headset, they engage and learn to interact extremely fast. The problem we have had is that children do not want to quit the experience!
On consequence, we decided to keep looking and working on the use of VR for reading comprehension. This year we are working with the UNICEF Innovation Fund to develop open source technology that seeks to improve children’s lives. On our side, we believe that by making available a reading comprehension test in VR we might be able to engage and empower children to diagnostic their reading comprehension skills.
How to implement it…
So far we have carried out tests with 500 students that have happily engaged in the experience of using VR. We carried out the first part of the testing that aimed at validating the test in VR. Our second part of the study will look at how to implement this technology into the classroom.
 Calderón, M., & Vargas, P. (2018) La lectura en entornos virtuales: Estudio preliminar sobre el impacto del formato en la comprensión lectora. Available at: http://edutec2017.cl/index.php/programacion/descarga-libro-de-comunicaciones-en-extenso.htm