John King Presentation at Conference on the future of Europe
Ganesh: Just to introduce you. Here we have John King, higher education and sales director at VictoryXR. So, thank you for joining this discussion.
John King: Thank you very much. Hopefully everyone can hear me. So, Ganesh, I appreciate you giving the intro and a nice segue into kind of what we’re doing in the metaverse. So, without further ado, we’re working in remote learning and immersive education.
So, what does that mean in essence? We’re helping universities, training centers, technical colleges, institutions bring elements of education into the metaverse, but more specifically, identify key elements that they want to bring in that are more apt and able to be done in this immersive and VR environment.
So, whether you’re limited in physical space, whether you’re trying to do procedures or training that are dangerous or costly in the real world, these are some things that can be brought into the VR environment for education, and that spans beyond just Metaverse, these, but two industries as a whole.
So, I’m going to show you a quick video from our CEO Steve Grubbs, and in addendum to that, you’re going to see some clips from what this world actually looks like. You’re going to see students manipulating human organs and blowing them up and stepping inside of them. You’re going to see what a digital twin campus looks like, where students can go take classes and interact in the metaverse, as well as some additional media that you can bring in, similar to what an LMS would do, when you’re inside that environment to help augment that instruction.
Steve Grubbs: Remote learning is growing all over the world. VictoryXR is the solution for schools, students, universities, who wants to have a remote learning program in an immersive world in virtual reality.
John King: So, you can see, this is what the environments look like, and it’s a first-person perspective. So, you’re not abstracted, you’re in that environment. We do workforce training. So instead of having someone there first time drive a real forklift, you can get them in these simulations, so the cost of failure is low.
We also have 360-degree videos that you can bring into these environments, right? Take students on field trips that otherwise they would never be able to go on. We also build digital twin campuses. And these are reflections of those institutions, either companies or universities, where students can come in, interact, collaborate, and this goes beyond peer instruction. This goes for student services, mental health, counselling, tutoring, ESL, all of these can be brought to bear. In addition to custom environments, where you have a high degree of specificity, looking at organ identification, doing exercises that otherwise that material would be costly and prohibitive for students who are engaged in it.
So, I just want to walk through a few elements and make sure we’re all on the same page. When we’re talking about 3d objects, we’re talking about a manipulatable three-dimensional object with some functionality. You saw on that video, the heart being blown up and played with, that would be a 3d object. When I’m talking about environments, I’m talking about places where you can interact, that could be the classroom, it could be a science lab, it could be the surface of Mars, right? You’re unbound by the subject matter that you’re actually teaching. You can do organic chemistry in an art museum, you can do supply chain logistics in any place that you would want. It doesn’t have to be in the factory.
We also provide a lot of training and development. For most instructors, whether you’re an industry or an education, this might be your first exposure to VR. So, getting people into that experience is the see change moment, right? Otherwise, it’s just an exercise and abstraction to actually put on those goggles. And we have a booth over here where you can experience that, I would highly recommend it to give some context to what this is all about.
We also have, as I mentioned, a ton of field trips. I’d like to go back to the panel two previously talking about hybrid learning. And I would strongly agree, is that we’re not making the pitch here that everything is better in VR all the time. What we’re trying to do is strategically identify, where can this technology be brought to bear in the best and most effective way demonstrating efficacy in that space? And that’s going to be different for every institution. And what it requires is people who are part of that institution to identify this as a valuable technology, become immersed in it, and then they’re informed to be able to make that decision.
So, as we look at the changes that occurred in the pandemic, I would say as a faculty member at a university and administrator, that all of those problems were present before the pandemic. They just came to the foreground as a result of the pandemic.
So what are these problems? You saw drops in enrolment, you saw drops in student engagement, and a desire for students to have classes in spaces that they’re familiar with. And when I mean familiar, I’m talking about online, or possibly even in the VR environment. One of the reasons we do a lot of training for instructors is because when you hand the VR headsets, to the age cohort of 18, to 24, they’re not going to wait until the first day of class to open those boxes. They’re going to be free playing and experimenting and learning with that technology, like we all do.
So, we work with partner institutions in more than 40 countries. We’re based out of the United States. But again, going back to meeting students where they want to be, these days, that’s online. That’s bridging oceans and continents and languages. Having cultural competence. Most of my professional career was spent in China. So even though I’m from America, the last 15 years of my professional life, were in different cities in China.
As you can see, we’ve got a wide diversity of people from the global north and global south, all accessing this technology. And for us, a big part of that is the access, it is the accessibility. If you want to bring people along for the ride, it cannot be cost prohibitive.
So, a lot of people ask: where’s the evidence? This sounds fun, this sounds nice, but is there demonstrated efficacy around this technology? The world leader, currently one of our partners, Morehouse College, which is a historically black college in Atlanta, Georgia, has been leading the field in this space. And what they’ve done, they’ve started teaching classes in different modalities. So, you have the traditional face to face, you have the online, take a zoom call, and then you have the VR modality. And what you’ll see is, these are the outcomes of a history class they taught a year ago. And on average, you’re looking at things like student attendance, engagement, and student achievement. And when I mean achievement, I’m talking about the grades.
So if you can look here, on the far right side, you’ll see that the metaversity, or using VR is an augmentation and a different modality, that you’re improving outcomes for students. Whether that’s an attendance or the grades that they’re making in that class, it’s something that students like.
So, when I talked with universities and industry partners, everyone says, “Well, who’s doing this?” And, of course, I share with them the Morehouse data. But I brought 50 universities through this process, including Moodle, our key partner in the European theater, and there’ll be many more by the end of next year, our project will have over 200 institutions, primarily universities working with us right to develop these solutions.
And again, nobody wants to be first because you want to see a best use case. But we’re no longer on the bleeding edge of this. That was couple years ago. Schools, training centers, industries are moving fully forward with this. And to be a part of that, you have to be willing to take a risk, you have to be willing to fail a little bit in order to ascertain where this applies at your institution. Here are some of our storied partners, mostly from the US, but you’ll see Modul University over there, proud on the right-hand side.
So, what does it take to get this up and running? Well, give me eight weeks, right? Within eight weeks, I can train your staff with our instructional trainers, we can build out these digital VR spaces, whether that’s a factory floor, or a university. And as you’re going through this process, a key component of what the instructors are doing is actually realizing vice v their subject matter expertise, how does this apply to my discipline? I’m not an organic chemistry professor, right? I’m not an accounting professor. But as I go through this training, I’m able to identify relative to my subject matter area of expertise. Where does this apply? And how does it best apply? And that’s different for every instructor that’s different for every industry.
So, it’s not a ready-packaged, ready-to-go solution in the sense that it’s going to tell you what to do. You’re still in the driver’s seat. There’s still a role for instructional designers and trainers who are working to develop the content. We want to see that organic growth. We’re providing the tools and the heavy lifting to make this a reality.
So, you can see here some of the fantastic environments that we’ve helped design for Modul University where students can go into student’s center, study Japanese underneath Mount Fuji, or work in a traditional classroom, right? You can have any environment you want, whatever is conducive to that subject matter area, and the institution as a whole.
One of the things we like to say is “crazy today, obvious tomorrow.” If you go back in your lives in those similar moments of technology, you’ll probably be able to relate to this. Thinking about the first time you used a Google or internet search, right? And you got those results back. Nothing was ever the same. Probably the same time you played with a smartphone for the first time. And we believe that VR is one of those seminal moments of technological change. After you put on that headset. It won’t be the same afterwards because then you’ll say, “Okay, this is what that is, and this is how I might be able to use it.”