2 November 2020

Time to Revisit 2D/3D?

The COVID epidemic is bringing a whole host of challenges to tutors and trainers in trying to deliver engaging teaching to students and staff – and in particular learning experiences which give the student a sense of context, place and shared experience. 

With on-site and classroom learning facing the greatest problems, many are naturally turning to remote teaching by Zoom (and similar), eLearning systems, or video. The diagram below briefly highlights key challenges with each of these - and we'll dive into more detail next week.

Whilst the uptake of headset-based virtual reality (HMD-VR) for both entertainment and training/education has been increasing in the last year or so (and Oculus sold out of the Quest headset early in the pandemic, and its new Quest2 had 5 times the pre-orders of the Quest1), the HMD-VR approach has its own challenges during COVID:

Sharing headsets within a central location needs rigorous cleaning between use

Posting/couriering headsets around remote students is costly and risky

The cost of equipping every student with their own VR HMD is too expensive for most organisations/institutions.

And this is quiet apart from the challenges of the space to use them (although we’ve found the garden is good – at least in summer!) and the discomfort that some users feel.

So given the current situation shouldn't tutors and trainers be re-considering the 2D/3D approach to immersive learning – the Sims/Computer Game style where you operate in a 3D environment but the experience is delivered on an ordinary 2D screen – be that on a PC/Mac, tablet or even smartphone.


Such systems have the advantages that:

  • Compared to Zoom you place students in the environment and they can learn when they want and a their own pace.
  • Compared to eLearning they have more agency, being able to tackle tasks in a variety of orders and ways, and can even undertake collaborative activities.
  • Compared to video the students again have more agency, more ability to explore the environment, and content can be changed on a regular basis for minimal or no cost.
  • Compared to HMD-VR there are no headsets to buy, clean or distribute, and students can potentially use their own smartphones or tablets alongside their own laptops

Such 2D/3D approaches appear to have been forgotten and brushed aside in the race to the latest "shiny" VR experiences, despite the fact that whilst there is a lot of evidence comparing traditional eLearning to VR there is little that shows significant benefits from VR as against 2D/3D - and even some which shows a negative "benefit"!

So isn't it time to re-assess the 2D/3D approach (and perhaps find a better name for it!)?

And of course with Trainingscapes you can generate content for 2D/3D and VR at the same time, so if the situation changes and VR becomes more do'able (for some students, some of the time) then you'll be ready.

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