Last year the US Department of Education opened a call for public feedback on the Edsim Challenge, an initiative to promote the creation of educational virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) content. This week the challenge has been launched, calling upon the VR videogame developers and educational technology communities to submit concepts for immersive simulations with the aim to prepare students for the globally competitive workforce of the 21st century.
With a prize pool of $680,000 USD, developers need to combine existing and future technologies with skill-building content and assessment. The Department of Education is most interested in simulations that pair the engagement of commercial videogames with educational content that transfers academic, technical, and employment skills.
“This initiative is an exciting example of how virtual reality and game technologies can be applied to give students everywhere the tools to prepare for future success,” said Johan Uvin, acting assistant secretary for career, technical, and adult education. “We encourage developers from all disciplines to answer our call and help define the future of applied learning.”
VR has shown to be a useful learning tool, engaging those far more directly. Students who participate in digital learning simulations for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) learning had a 23 percent higher achievement rating than those who do not, states the department.
If you’re interested in participating, concept ideas should be submitted by 17th, January 2017. A panel of judges will select five finalists to the Virtual Accelerator phase. These will then receive $50,000 from the prize pool along with access to expert mentorship as they refine their concept and build a simulation prototype. EdSim Challenge winner(s) will then be awarded the remainder of the prize money plus additional sponsor prizes from IBM, Microsoft, Oculus, and Samsung.
As further details on the EdSim Challenge submissions and finalists are revealed, VRFocus will keep you informed.