Mignon Reyneke is a highly decorated academic and researcher at the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business (GSB). Reyneke shared her insights into the potential for VR to revolutionise the way the world approaches learning. She believes it has the power to change education as we know it. As is an Associate Professor at the GSB specialising in Digital Marketing, Reyneke is an expert in bringing the technological innovation of the professional world to an academic audience. Reyneke has an MBA in Marketing and Strategy from Melbourne Business School. She has her PhD in Marketing from Luleå University of Technology in Sweden.
She has worked as a post-doctoral fellow, senior lecturer, and private consultant in marketing and business. Reyneke shared her insights into the potential for VR to revolutionise the way the world approaches learning. It has the power to change education as we know it. She sees applications for the technology in both a professional and academic context. Remote teaching, that uses immersive VR, can be a broader tool for education solutions than traditional universities currently offer.
Virtual Reality In The Classroom
During her PhD in 2010, Reyneke was part of a class that used a virtual teaching tool called Second Life that allowed a remote teaching session from Australia using computer-generated avatars. This allows for the sharing of business expertise across the globe in real-time. The Second Life application is rudimentary compared to the standards of modern VR. Its usefulness in the classroom is an indication of the efficacy of virtual technology.
Many MBA students go to one venue for an entire year. As a result, Reyneke argues that some variation in the venue and style of learning, in the form of a virtual application, could help to improve knowledge retention rates of these students.
VR education and teaching has the potential to allow thousands of people to learn simultaneously. On the African continent, where access to educational resources is low, where potential for upward mobility is often scarce, a robust VR teaching solution could be revolutionary.
Blended learning: a Catalyst for Change
Socially distanced classes are increasingly common across the world’s universities and schools as a direct result of the pandemic. As a result, many institutions have catered for a “blended learning” approach, where some teaching is in-person, and some is remote.
This radical shift has required educators to learn new skills and, in some cases, to reassess their roles. Consequently, lecturers and teachers have had to film videos, interact with their students through video conferencing apps, and even set and moderate exams for students to take online.
This flexibility, on the part of educators and students alike, is a test-case for using new technology for learning. VR education should be seen as another string in education’s bow. Giving students a novel and entertaining medium represents a huge opportunity to improve engagement.
“In my undergrad classes of 500 people, I think the retention rate is extremely low as the learning is very passive. In our smaller MBA classes we have about 60 students. These classes are very discussion based and interactive. When we debate in class, retention rates are significantly higher. This represents the power of immersive and interactive learning, which VR provides. This is why it can be so powerful.”– Mignon Reyneke