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HAS University of Applied Sciences hopes for breakthrough in use of innovative forms of 3D education

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Are Virtual Reality (VR) and experience as teaching tools temporary gadgets or can they offer permanent added value to education, research and valorisation to HAS University of Applied Sciences? A project group went to work with these forms of 3D education and what they have explored so far is extremely promising.

Until recently, little use was made of new media such as VR within the education of HAS University of Applied Sciences. Experience as a form of education is also still rare. Rob van Velthoven, director of the Applied Geo-Information Science, Management of the Living Environment and Applied Biology courses, states that this is slowly changing thanks to remote education during the COVID-19 pandemic started. “There are more experiments with this now”, he states. “You see such educational developments are accelerating thanks to remote education. Thanks to our exploratory work, we can pro-actively respond to this acceleration.”

Creating the breakthrough

He continues: “Professor and educational pedagogue Gert Biesta states that education must pay attention to three domains: qualification, socialisation and personal development. Pioneers Erik Dietvorst and Jesse van Veghel search with students for the added value of new media such as VR and experience in these three domains. They also involve other lecturers and professionals from the workfield. “We hope to achieve a breakthrough so that new media such as VR and the experience aspect will be known everywhere and used often.”

Improve the quality of education

VR and experience are two innovative forms of 3D education. “VR and experience are tools that we can deploy to improve the quality of our education and increase students’ motivation. For example, it makes being together possible, even remotely. It can also be an answer to ethical issues, such as viewing embryos with VR in the Applied Biology course.”

Put into context

VR and experience can also provide added value for training for professional situations where context is important. “You can simulate the context to make it seem as if you are actually in there. This brings students closer to the subject and helps them focus better, because they are completely closed off from the real world. All this makes effective learning and experiencing possible.”

More flexible education

And yet another benefit: it makes the education more flexible. “You are less dependent on when, where and how frequent a certain situation arises in practice. You can, for example, offer tailor-made education in terms of difficulty, work project-based with student groups in a creative setting deriving from various countries, or carry out coaching sessions in an alternative way.”

Filling a gap in the learning cycle

However, the most crucial argument to use VR and experience in education is that you fill a gap in the learning cycle: the gap between learning to reproduce theoretical knowledge and learning to apply it safely in professional practice. “VR allows students to observe a scenario with so-called real people or animals in 3D. Then they can learn to recognise certain indicators. If certain moments are incorporated in the video where a decision has to be made, students can learn to choose the right interventions since they immediately see the effects of their choices. Therefore, in VR they can practise taking control - via physical processing – thanks to interaction with virtual representations of people or animals prior to them actually doing it in practice.”

Virtual Classroom

Getting acquainted with VR and experience

On the basis of the results from the reconnaissance, the courses involved will start their coming academic year with a few educational experiments where VR and experience play an important role. All staff members from these courses have already been able to experience in a workshop what Virtual Reality and experience as a tool can mean for them, and for education. You can watch this video with them.

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