Students’ Experience with a Virtual Reality Tool: Brain Stories

Anne-Marie DePape, Marissa Barnes, Emma Marsden, Matthew Pawliw-Levac

Abstract


Virtual Reality (VR) has been applied at the higher education level to teach students about a variety of topics. This paper documents the experiences of higher education students with a VR tool, Brain Stories, as part of quality improvement funded by an IDEAWORKS Catalyst Fund grant. This tool introduced students to fictional characters diagnosed with a brain disorder: Aaron with autism, Henry with schizophrenia and Linda with Alzheimer’s disease. This tool was introduced to build interest in learning while developing empathy through the first-person perspective used with characters. In total, 41 students (2 male; 39 female) provided feedback about their experiences. When asked if they would recommend this tool, 31 students (84%) said “yes”. A qualitative analysis of students’ responses revealed the following themes: Contribution to Learning, Person-Centered Perspective, Immersive Experience, and Suggestions for Improvement. Recommendations are provided for how VR can be incorporated in future postsecondary classrooms in accordance with Universal Design for Learning principles and the development of a Community of Practice.


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