Inspiration: The Power of Virtual Worlds
When I put on a virtual reality headset for the very first time, my understanding of reality was changed forever. I was amazed to discover that the instant you pull the headset down over your eyes and you see the screen light up, your brain tells you that you are in another world. The illusion is so powerful that users will have physical reactions to what they see on the screen (such as their pulse quickening or their breathing becoming heavier), even though they consciously know that these virtual creations do not exist in real life.
What I find fascinating is that your brain can perform this same trick without a virtual reality headset. These same feelings are generated when one is reading an exciting part of a good book or watching an intense scene in a movie. When it came time to choose a topic for my Master’s research, schools were in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it just wasn’t practical to have students sharing virtual reality headsets when we were trying to comply with strict social distancing and sanitization protocols. However, I realized that I could still research the most important part of creating a virtual world—the brain. I realigned my research to focus on video games and narratives, exploring how the process of creating a video game can impact a student's understanding of text-based narratives.
Now that I have broadened my understanding of both literacy and the role that the brain plays in generating and understanding virtual worlds, I want to bring this knowledge to other teachers and students. Drawing upon the knowledge I have gained from this research, my next goal is to help students build their literacy skills by creating deeper and more meaningful learning experiences with virtual worlds. I believe that giving other teachers and students the right tools to get started with creating virtual worlds of their own can lead to better lessons, end products, and learning experiences for all.
What you will find in the research
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If you'd like to read more about other epiphanies (both large and small) that I've had throughout this Master's program, feel free to visit my blog: kwehrleyedu.weebly.com