The unexplored potential of virtual reality for cultural learning
Educational technology tools that improve learning and foster engagement are constantly sought by teachers and researchers. In the domain of Computer-Assisted Language Learning a variety of tools, for instance blogs and podcasts, have been used to promote language and cultural learning (Shih, 2015). More recently, virtual reality has been identified as a technology with great potential for the creation of meaningful and contextualized learning experiences. Despite the learning affordances of virtual reality, in language education most of the literature has focused on the low-immersive version, whereas research investigating highly immersive virtual environments has only emerged in recent years (e.g., Berti, 2019; Blyth, 2018). In other fields, the use of highly immersive virtual reality has been compared to traditional pedagogical resources and demonstrated that students’ learning improved with the use of virtual environments as compared to two-dimensional video and textbook learning conditions (Allcoat & von Mühlenen, 2018). Considering the potential learning benefits of this technology, this paper argues that longitudinal empirical research in language education is strongly needed to investigate its potential unexplored impact on language and cultural learning.
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