An educated workforce is a more than a qualified workforce; it is citizenry embracing curiosity. That very curiosity, encouraged by educators, creates the realm of possibility for a thriving, human-centered global populace. Enterprise may develop novel and innovative products with the latest VR/AR and immersive technologies, but without access to a trained, well-educated, and yes, curious workforce, business and industry cannot flourish or compete globally, no matter how cutting-edge or groundbreaking the technologies may be.
The overarching goal of the VRARA Universities and Colleges Committee is to increase higher education’s curiosity and knowledge of VR/AR. We seek to support and promote the bringing together of diverse disciplines, stakeholders, and interest groups within and across institutions in the service of learning both with and about VR/AR.
This report represents the first in a series of steps intended to advance that goal. It provides a high-level overview of over 40 institutions around the world are doing in this space, including:
VR/AR courses and programs being offered;
Use of VR/AR to support learning and teaching in other courses and programs;
VR/AR-related research and development activity being undertaken;
VR/AR in other areas of the institution (e.g., recruitment/ marketing/outreach, libraries, student services).
We hope that the report will be a useful resource for locating expertise, facilitating connections, and building collective capacity among those who are part of the growing community interested in the potential of VR/AR in higher education.
Beyond this report, a further role of the VRARA Universities and Colleges Committee is the coalescing of a higher education– industry alliance aimed at bridging the gap between current educational practices and offerings on one hand, and the emerging workforce needs and demands on the other. To that end, we have recently embarked on an environmental scan of major industry sectors using or otherwise impacted by XR— such as transportation, medicine and healthcare, arts, media and entertainment, and advanced manufacturing—the findings of which will be cross walked to curricular and pedagogical approaches as a means of better understanding how we can prepare students for the jobs and careers of the future.
In the words of Jean Piaget, “the goal of education is not to increase the amount of knowledge but to create the possibilities ... to invent and discover, to create [ people ] who are capable of doing new things.” Join us in our efforts as together, we forge a path for a thriving future of higher education, and of a global workforce enabled by as well as further enabling next-generation VR/AR and immersive technologies.