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Making VR education accessible to the next generation of creators

November 29, 2022 in News | 8 min. read
Making VR education accessible to the next generation of creators | Hero image, version 2
Making VR education accessible to the next generation of creators | Hero image, version 2

How Unity and Meta are breaking down barriers and championing equity

Virtual reality (VR) is a game changer, and it’s here to stay. No longer a tech novelty or niche hobby, VR is rapidly shifting how we design, create, and share everything from cars and buildings to games and films.

Around the world, industries of all sorts are realizing VR’s potential and creating exciting new career paths for tomorrow’s workforce. In fact, PWC estimates that 23 million jobs will involve AR and VR globally by 2030, augmenting the many roles already available today.

As use cases expand, so does demand for VR talent. However, unequal access to equipment and educator training leaves many institutions struggling to prepare students for the VR boom’s emergent careers.

This year, Unity and Meta Immersive Learning partnered to help educators and institutions overcome these challenges. Read on to learn more.

Prioritizing access

Virtual reality is predicted to grow 170% globally in the next 10 years, but educators and students eager to dive into VR today can often find it hard to get started.

One reason for this is the wide disparity in institutional funding. VR relies on hardware and software that can be prohibitively expensive to acquire. At a time when many secondary and post-secondary institutions are systemically underfunded, students from lower-income backgrounds who attend these schools are less likely to have access to the tools needed to develop their VR skills.

Securing the right equipment is only half the battle. In order to provide high-quality VR education, instructors also need access to training and resources so they can teach with confidence. VR is a new frontier for many educators just as it is for their students, so resources need to cater to both types of learners to achieve the best outcomes.

The Create with VR Grant program

To address these barriers, Unity and Meta Immersive Learning worked together to design the Create with VR Grant program, which aims to reduce the VR learning gap by:

  1. Increasing access to the hardware and software needed to create and consume VR content
  2. Increasing educator preparation and offering resources for teaching VR creation

VR headset distribution

This spring, Meta Quest 2 VR headsets were made available to secondary and post-secondary education institutions that applied to the grant program. Applications were selected based on the applicant institutions’ current and future plans for teaching VR, as well as the demographic makeup of their student bodies and their unique challenges related to accessing funding.

Educator training

In concert with the distribution of VR headsets, the Create with VR for Educators professional development training opened for registration in April 2022, offering a crash course in technical skills and pedagogical approaches for teaching VR effectively.

School representatives, educators, IT administrators, and lab leaders of all skill levels were encouraged to sign up for the training, which consists of live, online sessions supplemented by self-paced learning and virtual office hours.

“The Create with VR Grant bridges the digital divide, affording meaningful interactions and experiences with VR for our students. Whether they are creators, gamers, or engaged in immersive learning, the Create with VR Grant allows us to integrate VR/AR/XR lessons across disciplines and programs. This access builds technical literacy and inspires innovation. We are excited about what is now possible.” – Jenny Hanson, Director, Film & New Media and Online and Blended Learning Pedagogies, Augsburg University

By jointly addressing access to hardware and educator preparation, the grant program aims to put high-quality VR education within reach for teachers and students who might otherwise miss out.

Impacts so far

Seven months after the partnership announcement, the Create with VR Grant program has already helped thousands of learners and educators take their first steps into the exciting world of virtual reality creation – and we’re just getting started. As of November 2022, the program has:

  • Distributed more than 5,300 Meta Quest 2 VR headsets to more than 300 education institutions across the United States, the majority of which teach real-time 3D creation and cater predominantly to underserved students.  
  • Provided more than 10,700 students with access to essential VR hardware.  
  • Welcomed more than 3,000 secondary and post-secondary educators from around the world into the Create with VR for Educators training program.

“The Create with VR program made a tremendous difference in how we approach teaching VR. We used to share one headset in a class of 20 students. Now, each of our students gets to keep a headset for the duration of a semester. This means more opportunities for full immersion in VR and more time spent on creating meaningful experiences.” – Wojciech Lorenc, Chair, Mass Communication Department, Sam Houston State University

Unity and Meta are proud to be contributing to a VR-ready workforce. With the right combination of tools, professional development, and teaching content, educators will be able to successfully build their curricula and prepare themselves to empower tomorrow’s creators.

“We’re incredibly humbled and excited to hear about the impact that the Create with VR Grant program has had on schools and communities around the country. It has always been our mission to equip educators with the tools needed to prepare students to compete in the job market of tomorrow, and we wholeheartedly believe that when given opportunities like this, we’ll see students flourish.” – Jessica Lindl, Vice President, Social Impact, Unity

 

Join the VR movement

“My students used to be thrilled to surf on YouTube – now they make videos. They were happy to play Fruit Ninja on their laptops – now they make their own games and animations. They love VR, but never contemplated being able to create in 3D or virtual worlds until now.” – Darlene Bowman, Founder, AusomeTech Industries

VR and AR have the potential to add $1.5 trillion to the global economy by 2030, and today’s learners deserve access to the training they’ll need to reap the benefits of the immersive technology boom. We encourage you to join Unity and Meta on our shared mission to make VR education accessible to all.

Ready to get started? Sign in to Unity Learn to access on-demand Create with VR for Educators sessions that will help you prepare to teach, and dive into our communities on Facebook and Discord to connect with fellow educators leveraging Unity for VR around the world.

November 29, 2022 in News | 8 min. read
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