How do we reinvent education, one of our oldest institutions?
That’s the mission of Dreamscape Learn, one of the Los Angeles-based virtual reality companies that merges the power of Hollywood storytelling and immersive VR technology to disrupt how we teach and learn. (Full disclosure: my venture fund BOLD Capital is an investor in Dreamscape.)
Education hasn’t fundamentally changed in ages.
It often involves reading a book or listening to a lecture. But take a minute to think about the stuff you really remember–it’s experiences. For example, when you’ve been scared out of your mind, or you had to solve a problem in record time… or when you made a discovery.
It’s these experiential lessons that stay with us.
That’s what Dreamscape Learn is all about: using immersive virtual reality technology and storytelling to give students a richer, more impactful learning experience.
And the research supports this approach. A 2020 report by PwC found that VR can train students 4x faster than traditional classroom methods. That same report also found that VR learners were 3.75x more emotionally connected to the content than their classroom-based peers.
In today’s blog, I’m going to give you an overview of Dreamscape Learn, how their VR technology works, their virtual reality applications and what this means for the future of future of virtual reality and the education itself.
Let’s dive in…
NOTE: Understanding how to use exponential tech like AI and VR to transform the education industry is a key focus area during my year-round Abundance360 coaching program.
What is Dreamscape Learn?
Dreamscape Learn is a partnership between the VR company Dreamscape Immersive and Arizona State University, which U.S. News & World Report has ranked as the nation’s most innovative university for the last six years.
Dreamscape Co-founder and Chairman Walter Parkes teamed up with Academy Award-winning director and producer Steven Spielberg to create Dreamscape Immersive’s first VR adventure, Alien Zoo.
And after ASU President Michael Crowe first experienced Alien Zoo, he saw the VR environment as a new way to teach biology and other STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and math).
People often say that it’s hard to teach STEM. But a fundamental problem of traditional education is that it’s too passive.
Dreamscape Learn changes that.
Alien Zoo sits on top of conventional biology courses, providing a “virtual laboratory” where you as the student become the scientist. You can explore, observe, collect digital specimens, and solve problems that reflect key concepts in biology.
This approach reflects a broader development in education: moving away from information acquisition to skills acquisition… moving away from memorizing facts to understanding how a scientist thinks.
The student becomes an active participant in their own learning.
As Parkes puts it: “You can’t just look [something] up on Google… it involves you in a way that other technologies would allow you to sidestep.”
How Exactly Does Dreamscape Work?
Source: ASU and Dreamscape Immersive
You enter a Dreamscape VR world like Alien Zoo by donning a VR headset, which is tethered to a backpack that contains the CPU powering your headset and the experience.
Dreamscape’s VR platform then uses sensors that track the position of your head, hands, feet, and back. At the same time, powerful inverse kinematics algorithms predict what the rest of your body is going to do.
Using these advanced algorithms, with their ability to better predict your body’s movements, means that there’s less information to process than other systems that use a higher number of reference points.
This allows Dreamscape to render in real-time groups of people in social experiences without any latency or lag. All untethered—you can move around freely and experience the virtual world as a very real place.
This is what is possible now.
Future versions of Dreamscape’s VR platform will make the experience even more mobile and personalized.
With 5G, Dreamscape will be able to set up local 5G hubs, perhaps in an adjacent room, that will handle the computation and communicate directly with the headset. No more backpacks.
Eventually, you’ll be able to use Dreamscape’s VR technology at home.
That future is closer than you think. Just last month, Dreamscape formed a partnership with Verizon to create a 5G innovation lab to develop immersive VR experiences for a broader range of education levels and environments. Once it's ready, it will be one of the best uses of virtual reality and 5G technologies.
We’re getting closer to the true human agency in VR that’s critical to effective education.
Implications for the Future of Education
From a macroscopic perspective, education has two main issues: quantity and quality.
On the quantity side, we face a catastrophic shortage. UNESCO estimates that by 2030, the number of teachers needed will be over 60 million. As a result, 260 million children worldwide currently lack basic education.
Dreamscape Learn has an opportunity to help truly democratize top-shelf education.
We currently face a computation challenge. For Dreamscape’s VR platform to compute and track your movements, turn those movements into an avatar, and animate your avatar inside a richly rendered virtual world… that’s a lot of data. And all that data currently must be computed locally, in the backpack.
But with the continued rollout of 5G, when that computation can take place at the edge of the cloud, the data can go directly to the VR or mixed-reality headset.
At that point, anyone in the world who has the headset and is serviced by 5G will be able to access Dreamscape’s VR adventures.
On the quality side, most education today lacks personalization and relevance. It’s the sage on the stage. If you’re lucky, there are 30 students in a classroom, but half are lost and the other half are bored. It’s a one-size-fits-all model where everyone is taught the same way.
But we know that everyone is wired differently.
Imagine all the possibilities of AI and VR to create more personalized and meaningful learning experiences. For example, using AI to map your personal preferences (e.g., your favorite color) in VR so that your learning is more effective.
Or what if you could learn about ancient Greece from an AI avatar of Plato who understands how you specifically learn?
When AI and VR converge with wireless 5G networks, our global education problem moves from the nearly impossible challenge of finding teachers and funding schools for the hundreds of millions in need, to the much more manageable puzzle of building a fantastic digital education system that we can give away for free to anyone with a headset.
It’s quality and quantity on demand.
Final Thoughts on Use of virtual reality in education
Technologies such as Dreamscape’s immersive VR platform are made possible by the extraordinary convergence of exponential technologies.
The combination of AI, VR, sensors, networks, and more powerful computation is transforming how we teach and learn.
Education is one industry where we will continue to see some of the most extraordinary and impactful demonstrations of converging exponentials.
I don’t think there’s been a revolutionary impact in education since Google or Khan Academy... and maybe MOOCs.
If you’re an ambitious entrepreneur interested in education, there’s never been a better time to get involved.
Join My Abundance360 Community
If using exponential technologies like AI and VR to transform education and other industries is important to you, then consider joining my year-round Abundance360 coaching program.
Every year, my team and I select a group of 360 entrepreneurs and CEOs to coach over the course of a year-long program. You can join at any time for a full year’s worth of personal coaching on Exponential Tech, Longevity, Moonshots, and Abundance thinking.
My mission is to help A360 members obtain mastery in four specific Mindsets: an Abundance Mindset; an Exponential Mindset; a Moonshot Mindset; and a Longevity Mindset. Together we will actively select and reinforce your preferred Mindsets.