Virtual reality providing real-world literacy and numeracy learning tool | 8/17/2018 | Staff
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Virtual reality is moving beyond purely entertainment to become a potential tool in improving literacy, and the University of Otago is behind one ground-breaking approach.

The University of Otago Information Science department has been working with Methodist Mission Southern to look at a totally new way of helping prisoners in the Otago Corrections Facility at Milburn to improve reading and writing skills.

Prototype - Animation - Research - Limited - Methodist

The resulting prototype has proved so successful, Animation Research Limited and Methodist Mission Southern are developing the concept into a commercial enterprise – with support from Ngāti Kahungunu.

Virtual reality (VR) uses computer technology to create a simulated environment. Instead of viewing a screen in front of them, users are immersed inside an experience and able to interact with three-dimensional worlds.

Otago - Department - Information - Science - Forefront

Otago's Department of Information Science has been at the forefront of investigating functional uses of both virtual and augmented reality over the last decade; the aim being to find meaningful ways for computing to solve real world problems.

Methodist Mission Southern Business Development Leader Jimmy McLauchlan approached the Information Science group because the social agency wanted to rethink the way literacy is taught to people who often fall through the cracks – particularly those in prison.

Approach - Research - Development - Box - Mr

"A novel approach was needed, and we thought research and development may help us think outside the box," Mr McLauchlan explains.

PhD student Jonny Collins then brought the need and the technology together into a prototype virtual reality application using a setting that is both familiar and motivating to the learner - a simulated car workshop. Jonny worked together with Mission Southern to integrate educational content, and local company Animated Research Limited provided assistance with the panoramic environment.

Dunedin - City - Council - Funding

The Dunedin City Council also recognised its potential, with some of the funding needed for...
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