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SOUTHERN NEW HAMPSHIRE UNIVERSITY | LEARNING Exploring the value of VR for learning

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The Challenge

Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) is a large, innovative institution of higher education in the United States. Due to its global enrollment of more than 160,000 remote learners, the university has a keen interest in digital innovation, and established SNHU Labs Innovation Center to research and develop sophisticated new digital platforms for teaching and learning.

SNHU Labs partnered with Nucco to design and build experiential and immersive learning modules to study the effectiveness, engagement, and feasibility of VR for learning.

The Solution

We designed and built Synapse VR, an immersive active learning experience for a course called Biopsychology, working closely with SNHU Labs’ subject matter experts.

The design of the experience was informed by discussions with the professor and students to understand the topics of the course that are most challenging to learn by lectures and reading. We collaborated with SNHU Labs to see if we could enhance the learning experience, increase student motivation for the material, and experiment with a technology that is likely to offer high-quality inclusive learning experiences for students of the future.

Results

SNHU sought to understand the potential of VR to enrich the learner experience as measured by students’ levels of interest, motivation, and engagement.

Student StatementsAccording to Cat Flynn, Ed. M., Director of Learning Science at SNHU Labs, "the students overwhelmingly loved the experiences with SynapseVR."

One of the design goals with Synapse VR was to use the special features of VR to support learners - to understand the unique affordances of this technology and to leverage those for the benefit of the learning experience.

Student Affective StatesProfessor Peter Frost, whose students participated in the study said, “From the outset, it was really important to us that the experience wasn't gimmicky; that it captured the nuances of the subject material in a way that both captivated and educated our students. From our perspective, Synapse VR has been a categorical success.”

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