Using Virtual Reality to Enhance Food Technology Education.

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The use of Virtual Reality (VR) technology combined with 360-degree images and videos provide an opportunity for teachers to bring students into the classroom even when they are located somewhere else. During the COVID-19 lockdown and pandemic, with students across the world forced into home-based learning via remote teaching, a VR classroom shows potential as a tool for adding depth to their learning. The possibility of immersing students in a virtual environment could provide an answer to motivation and engagement issues for today’s students as well as a solution to some of the current constraints faced by teachers. In particular, VR has the potential to increase the time students are able to spend in (virtual) environments that are suitable for teaching and learning practical skills. With the cost of VR equipment reducing rapidly and the increasing quality of virtual experiences, it appears VR is on the tipping-point of becoming a regular part of school programmes.This article outlines the development and testing of a VR Classroom for the delivery of a food-based lesson with middle school students in a New Zealand school. Kitchens are a costly commodity for schools and the obvious health and safety issues make teaching practical cooking skills challenging. With a focus on student engagement and motivation, data is collected from observation of students using the virtual classroom and a post-test survey. Results show that students were highly motivated and perceived the VR classroom as fun to use.

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Authors: Daniel Gorman, Simon Hoermann, Robert W Lindeman, Bahareh Shahri