Virtual Reality and Libraries–is this a thing?

We watched a video for class during our last unit (graduation, here I come!) that was a combination Q&A/conversation between Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Oculus’s Michael Abrash that was one of the most interesting ones we watched all semester. They were there to discuss Facebook’s purchase of Oculus and the future of VR (virtual reality) and it really has me pretty psyched about the possibilities that VR brings to the future. It’s on the longish side, but it’s below if you want to check it out yourself:

This has inspired me to look for ways that VR and libraries have (or can) interact with each other. The possibilities are endless! Some ideas include:

  • Virtual travel–we actually tried this, though not a super-sophisticated version, at one of our recent Youth Services Group meetings. Using cardboard virtual reality goggles and library-owned iPods, we got to explore the Eiffel Tower. It was a super-inexpensive version–I think the app we were using was a free one–but still really neat!
  • Gamification–I wrote about my experience with this as a teacher here. Looking around online I found an article from the IBM website that talks about businesses using video games and VR to teach skills like leadership skill building and strategic analysis (IBM is one, of course, and the US Army–you can actually see this in their recruitment commercials if you watch closely–and Hilton Hotels, among others). Moving this concept into libraries as well can help to teach people skills within an authentic context–maybe libraries could add gamified job hunting skills to their adult programming?
  • Driver safety programs–as thrilling as those videos are that you watch in driver’s ed classes and point-reduction classes, how much more impact would it have to use VR to see the results of distracted driving, impaired driving, and so on? Both new and experienced drivers would benefit!
  • Online courses–just think how much more engagement students of all ages would have with something as simple as a class lecture if VR were involved? (Snoozing through a lecture might become a thing of the past…maybe ;))
  • Even that old classic, the View Master has gone VR. Mattel has teamed up with Discovery, Smithsonian, and National Geographic to turn a once-simple toy into an immersive experience that would be perfect in libraries.  Personally, I think just being able to virtually walk with dinosaurs or in space is cool enough, but for libraries looking for a more pop cultural experience, they also offer packs that will let you explore Gotham City and the Masters of the Universe as well.

These are just a few ideas and examples that I’ve discovered. What else have you encountered out there? What have you experienced yourself? Share your ideas in the comments below!

 

Online sources used:

ALSC Children and Technology committee. (2016, November 12). 2016 Trends: Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality – ALSC Blog. Retrieved from http://www.alsc.ala.org/blog/2016/11/2016-trends-augmented-reality-virtual-reality/

IBM. (2009, October). IBM – Serious Games for Smarter Skills: The Future of Learning. Retrieved from http://www-01.ibm.com/software/solutions/soa/newsletter/oct09/article_seriousgames.html

Lambert, T. (2016, February 24). Virtual Reality in the Library: Creating a New Experience » Public Libraries Online. Retrieved from http://publiclibrariesonline.org/2016/02/virtual-reality-in-the-library-creating-a-new-experience/ 

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