Virtual Reality, the use of computer technology to create a simulated environment that can be explored and interacted, is a fast-developing trend whose applications may soon change every aspect of our way of life; the uses for simulated environments in a variety of domains such as healthcare, education, entertainment, or business, to name a few, have been growing exponentially in recent years.
Research has shown that virtual reality has a direct impact on reducing the cognitive load of the brain through the visualization of complex ideas and structures, increasing long-term memory retention, and building on empathy-related skills, which positively affects learners’ understanding of other cultures.
In the field of language learning, the emerging field of virtual reality, for instance, has the potential to expose students to the target language and culture by being highly immersed in a simulated environment, something that up until now had only been possible mainly through study abroad experiences, which is not a feasible option for everyone due to time and monetary constraints, among other factors.
We invite scholars, instructional designers and professionals in education to share their research findings, experiences, and insights on how Virtual Reality Technology can be used to create experiences that significantly enhance student engagement and learning, specifically in the language, literature, and culture classroom. What is the role of VR in the emergence of new learning modalities and paradigms that place equity, accessibility, and resilience at the center stage of educational innovation? How can we leverage the natural affordances of virtual reality as a pedagogical strategy for the teaching of language, culture, and literature? How can we measure its effectiveness in enhancing learning objectives? Particular attention will be given to VR technology, but papers focusing on other immersive experiences will be welcome.
María Ángeles Fernández Cifuentes, Associate Professor of Spanish, University of North Florida