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Pupils’ Compassion for Nature Enhanced by VR

VR may significantly complement undergraduate education programs, potentially providing possibilities and knowledge that would otherwise be unavailable.

Within the virtual reality setting, users’ arms resemble flippers, whilst their backs round up and become hard. Users can traverse the waters of oceans and swivel through obstacles like ships and fishing equipment on the way to their destinations. This VR offering makes one step into the role of a loggerhead sea turtle once they put on the VR headset. The project is known as the Project SHELL or the Simulating Living Habitat Experiences of Living Loggerheads, and it is a project undertaken by the University of Florida and the University of Oregon.

Interestingly, the experience continues even after the VR headset is taken off by the user. The threats that are faced by the users do not end when they take off their headgear. In essence, they are gaining an idea about the kinds of hazards can come across when they are in the open waters. Through this VR offering, users become more empathetic about loggerhead turtles, along with gaining awareness about the various environmental issues affecting them. It also makes them more determined to contribute towards the conservation of these animals and their environments, according to a Scientific Reports study.

According to Daniel Pimental, a co-author of the research paper, many individuals are becoming teary-eyed after experiencing the painful events being showcased in the feature. He revealed this in an email message sent from a research lab traversing the Pacific Ocean. According to Pimentel, humans are more prone to be more empathetic with single members of a species rather than clusters of them. He elaborated on this observation, saying that most individuals are less intuitive when it comes to understanding the emotional conditions of groups in general. As a result, they become oblivious to such scenarios.

There has been an ongoing debate about the role of technological means in helping students learn about the environment. Whilst it’s true that a virtual reality environment takes away the actual ability of students to be in natural settings, there are also several upsides to the technology being used. For starters, VR has the scope of being an additional content delivery mode that can be utilised alongside undergraduate programmes. Moreover, VR also opens up more innovative pathways of education that would not exist otherwise.

Several years ago, the global VR education market had a valuation of around 900 million USD. However, a recent report has hinted that the valuation may go up to as much as 10 billion USD by the year 2025.

According to Pimentel, it may be true that VR technology has many downsides, which are evident in scenarios related to natural trauma simulations. This is because the learners tend to lack context for the same, and could use some of it. One idea suggests that the virtual reality version of a trapped turtle in a fishing net can be paired up with additional statistics and real-world discussion sessions. Based on some research resources, there is currently a dearth of options in terms of academic papers related to the environment.

The VR offering, as it is now, can deepen the learning capabilities of students.

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