Berkeley College Faculty Group Experiments with Virtual Reality in the Classroom

Immersive-learning technology heightens student engagement
Friday, July 20, 2018 - 12:00 am

WOODLAND PARK, N.J. (July 19, 2018)—At Berkeley College, faculty in several disciplines successfully engaged students in immersive learning experiences using virtual reality (VR) technology in the classroom. Using Google Cardboard Headsets and their own mobile devices, students were immersed in a variety of learning activities ranging from a virtual field trip in North Korea to practicing public speaking techniques in front of a computer-generated audience. In a survey among 53 student respondents, 79 percent felt more engaged with the course materials when using virtual reality and a similar number of students felt VR enhanced their learning experience.

Members of the Berkeley College Virtual Reality Faculty Interest Group used free mobile applications such as WithinVR, NYT VR, Discovery VR, Jaunt VR and YouTube VR in courses that included Foundations of Critical Writing, International Business and Global Business Management, Career and Business Essentials, Medical Terminology, International Banking and Finance, Public Speaking and Model UN Crisis Management during the winter 2018 semester. All seven faculty reported positive experiences among the students and agreed that they would use the technology again.

In the Foundations of Critical Writing course taught by James Pacello, EdD, Developmental Education, the learning objective was to apply the writing process to a variety of written works by using prewriting, drafting, proofreading/revision and plagiarism avoidance strategies. Dr. Pacello’s assignment required students to imagine themselves as part of a research team assigned to the task of exploring VR emerging technology. Students viewed a variety of pre-selected VR content in class, and then wrote a short essay using concrete examples from the immersive experiences to illustrate their ideas.

“Students were receptive to the process because I gave them a variety of choices regarding how they fulfilled the assignment criteria,” Dr. Pacello said. “Based on my analysis of their essays, their feedback to me during class, and the anonymous survey responses, I found they were engaged in the process, and they were able to articulate why they found the experience compelling,” he said. “The examples students used in their written work were very often thoughtful and students seemed to find the content meaningful.”

Valbona Gjoligaj, PhD, Management, Larry L. Luing School of Management® used VR technology in two courses, International Business and Global Business Management. The learning objectives included providing an overview of global political systems and their impact on international business. Students were asked to explain the difference among communism, capitalism and socialism and how these economic ideologies affect the conduct of international business.

Students in Dr. Gjoligaj’s class used virtual reality headsets to experience a 360 video titled Inside North Korea, taking students on an immersive journey inside North Korea as it held military celebrations for its Worker’s Party. Prior to the experience, Dr. Gjoligaj surveyed her students to gauge their prior knowledge on VR technology and its applications in today’s workplace. Using this pre-assignment to introduce students to the technology grabbed their attention and interest early on.

“Students were busier during this individual class compared to a case study or YouTube video class work,” Dr. Gjoligaj said. “At the end of the classwork every student turned in the VR assignment.” Results from the in-class 10-question survey showed that 80 percent of the students enjoyed, learned, engaged and felt excited about using VR in the classroom. In addition, 59 percent thought VR is related to professional growth and more than 60 percent would like to experience VR technology in the classroom again. You can view this VR selection here:

Syleecia Thompson, DBA, Management, Larry L. Luing School of Business®, used VR technology when she taught a Career and Business Essentials course. Learning objectives included promotional strategies implemented by entrepreneurs, and examination of the important role of customer relationships. The VR experience she chose immersed the student in a taxicab ride of an entrepreneurial owner’s approach to a nightclub on wheels.

“The students were engaged from the moment I pulled the glasses out of the box,” Dr. Thompson said. “I don’t think I would have gotten dialogue that was this charged about a one-minute video without using the VR glasses … I could tell learning took place based on their conversations with each other, the intense debate about the topic, and the words used such as ‘target market’ and ‘scalability’ and ‘market segmentation.’ ”

Throughout the exploration process, members of the Virtual Reality Faculty Working Group also identified a variety of VR content that they deemed good quality, but did not align with courses they were currently teaching. A depository of learning-outcome-aligned VR content is now a web resource available for other faculty to identify content relevant to their curriculum, with Berkeley College librarians and staff from the Teaching and Learning Commons available to assist. Classroom sets of Virtual Reality Google Cardboard headsets are available through the libraries at all campuses. However, while true immersive capabilities of VR are experienced with the use of a headset, students who are hesitant to use this new technology can still participate in a less-stimulating manner.

A leader in providing career-focused education since 1931, Berkeley College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and enrolls more than 7,100 students–including more than 440 international students–in its Master’s, Bachelor’s, and Associate’s degree and Certificate programs. Students can study in more than 20 career fields. Berkeley College is comprised of the Larry L. Luing School of Business®, the School of Professional Studies, the School of Health Studies and the School of Liberal Arts. The School of Graduate Studies offers an MBA in Management online and in Woodland Park, NJ.

Berkeley College has three New York campuses–Midtown Manhattan, Brooklyn and White Plains. In New Jersey there are four campuses–Newark, Paramus, Woodbridge and Woodland Park. Berkeley College Online® serves a global population. For five consecutive years, U.S. News & World Report has named Berkeley College among the Best Colleges for Online Bachelor’s Programs and among the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Veterans.