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C2C Lantern (Fall 2012 / Winter 2013 Inaugural Issue)

Colleague 2 Colleague, Author

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Virtual Reality Like You've Never Seen Before

By Mike Jeffries, University of Central Missouri

O.K. Stay with me --- follow my train of thought here..... 

SmartPhones have actually changed our behavior patterns. They have changed the way we communicate, the way we spell, the way we access information, even the way we walk down the sidewalk (run into any poles lately?).

The first iPad was introduced less than four years ago, and now look how tablet computing has impacted every aspect of our lives.

Well, are you ready for the next "mind boggling" gadget that will transform our lives? It's called the Oculus Rift. Just released as a developer's model, it has already created a thunderstorm of activity and speculation of how it (and other gadgets like it) will transform the gaming industry. We've seen "Oculus Rift" types of devices for years in the movies, in the military, and in high-end research projects.

The Oculus Rift is now the first virtual reality head-mounted consumer affordable display that will allow the user to truly enter the virtual reality world in a way never before possible. The impact this will have on the gaming industry is unknown, but everyone believes gaming will never be the same.

So, why am I, an educator, so interested in a gaming device? You need only read the 2013 Horizon Report to find the answer. Gaming and Gamification is one of the technology classifications that will greatly impact institutions of higher learning in the next two - three years. It is coming.... and if the Oculus Rift is going to impact gamers and gaming development that much..... it will have an impact on higher ed just as much.

Imagine - would-be architects building virtual structures, walking among their creations and actually experiencing the devastation of a design flaw or composition. Or, student nurses in an immersive experience learning how hospitals work. Or, police cadets experiencing in real time a drug raid or stopping a speeder. Or, student teachers being able to observe master teachers in the classroom by moving around the room and watching student engagement and reactions.

If there is any part of your higher ed. institution involved with gaming and gamification, you need to seriously look into acquiring an Oculus Rift developer's kit. Production models are due out by mid-2014.

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