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VR Biology Lab Experience Leads to Student Success

Students at Arizona State University are learning biology in a unique virtual reality experience, hurtling through space to interact with creatures in an intergalactic wildlife sanctuary the size of a small city and to solve the mystery of why the creatures are dying.

 

​New study shows that students who participated in ASU's Dreamscape Learn lab course performed better and were more engaged. And the data are in to show that the experience is working.

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FORBES: How Web3/Ed3 And Immersive Technologies Signal A New Era For K-12 Education

Then there’s the promise of integrating emerging immersive technologies like AR and VR into the curriculum, which Arizona State University is piloting. Dreamscape Learn is a digital educational platform that merges pedagogy and narrative storytelling with fully immersive, avatar-driven virtual reality. ASU is using the technology from Dreamscape Learn for labs in two of its introductory biology classes. The platform gives students the chance to explore problems that reflect the courses’ key concepts—but in a way I could never have imagined.

The lab I attended, “Alien Zoo,” simulated situations that scientists might encounter while working in a wildlife sanctuary, such as diagnosing infectious diseases or managing genetic diversity. I wasn’t holding a controller; my hands guided my journey—and I was transported to another place entirely. I was in the sanctuary, coming face to face with its animal inhabitants. It was a biology class, but I was interacting with the material in a deeper way than if I had been sitting in an auditorium listening to a lecture. I was beyond engaged.

WORKING NATION: ASU’s Dreamscape Learn: How virtual reality is transforming education

In January, ASU plans to launch a course using a virtual immersive experience that it describes as a first of its kind in the industry. ASU partnered with Dreamscape Immersive, the VR entertainment company, to form Dreamscape Learn. And the approach has potential to be applied to all kinds of classrooms as well as adult learners in the workforce.

 

I caught a preview of Dreamscape Learn at the ASU+GSV Summit in August in San Diego and had a chance to speak to Lisa Flesher and Phil Regier about the learning tool and its potential to transform education.

“The reason we did this is because we see how much people engage with entertainment. It happens with movies and with theme parks. And so we wanted to do that edutainment, how can we merge those two things together?,” explains Flesher, Chief of Realm 4, Project Acceleration at Arizona State University.

Flesher describes Dreamscape Learn as a combination of Hollywood storytelling with textbook curriculum.

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Dreamscape Learn at ASU

Dreamscape Learn at ASU is an education game changer — combining the emotional power of Hollywood storytelling with a fully immersive virtual reality learning experience. We caught up with students after their first virtual reality biology class to hear how it went.

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"If I had this experience in my freshman year, I would have stuck with it more since it would make it easier for me to learn."

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 “The experience was awesome, and it will change everything on campus if implemented. Will make coming to school more enjoyable.”