Everywhere you turn these days, it seems like there is simultaneously too much information and a boatload of ambiguity surrounding the future of virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), mixed reality (MR), extended reality (XR), and of course, myriad misunderstandings about the “Metaverse” and its future. Despite the chatter, one thing is clear: VR is here to stay. VR’s presence and importance isn’t just a fingers crossed prophecy from Global XR Academy (GXRA), a start-up digging its heels into the promise of XR. If we look at investment into VR, money talks, and spending in the AR/VR space is set to jump to more than $12.6 billion annually by 2025 with the market to reach more than $80 billion by 2028; more specific industries, like healthcare, boast impressive numbers in their own right.
With so much buzz and money flying around, platforms are scrambling to innovate, improve, and become household names. GXRA co-founders have met with the brains behind Simmula, BodySwaps, Engage, AltspaceVR, Immerse, Spatial, Zoe, Facilitate, Futuclass, VictoryXR, Remio—the list goes on and on. Some platforms have revealed themselves as frontrunners for specific industries, subindustries, or types of interaction (e.g., education, language education, mediation, science and engineering labs), while others are in the process of rebranding or establishing their sweet spot and target demographics as they strive to separate themselves from the rest of the VR pack. All of this innovation is in the service of not only ambition, but it’s in the service of a greater need for meaningful interaction as a response to unprecedented pandemic upheaval. Where organizations were measured in their optimism about actually using AR and VR before COVID, the pandemic quickly revealed that interactions offered through the likes of simple videoconferencing platforms are not enough.
VR in the Office and in Schools
We have all experienced—and suffered from—pandemic disruption, whether it has impacted our families or our social, professional, and educational lives. We’ve seen the modern lexicon embrace the words “remote” and “virtual” in just about every arena, and these terms have doubled as dirty words at one point or another since March 2020. If you consider the money flowing into VR, coupled with a communal understanding that no one is eager to return to the chaos, stress, and isolation that marked the first six months of the pandemic (and beyond!), it becomes easier to understand why VR evangelists might be proactive about putting their stamp on educational and professional spaces.
Consider, too, that even before the pandemic, AR and VR were already poised to experience significant growth in schools. Nearly 90% of pre-pandemic survey respondents predicted XR technology would be as universal as mobile phones, and investors revealed that, even in 2019, they were investing significantly more in XR than previously anticipated. If only we could have predicted how desperately we would need and crave engagement and interaction! Perhaps VR would have been adopted even earlier in the pandemic, instead of forcing folks into a collective experiment with online learning and remote work meetings. Wishful thinking? Perhaps. Lesson(s) learned? Definitely.
As the world continues to feel the ripple effects of the pandemic on daily life, flip-flopping among closures, reopenings, and hybrid interactions, we have to remember VR is more than just an alternative to web conferencing or e-learning, and VR pioneers have been tirelessly working to transform virtual and simulated experiences for decades.
The Power of VR
There’s no shortage of amazing innovation coming out of the XR world, from XR advancements in education and medicine to tourism and gambling. New XR enthusiasts are emerging each day, attending events alongside the trailblazers who paved the way; we are living in a time when what used to seem like science fiction to many is quickly being folded into our daily lives. Take American High School, headquartered in Florida, for example. Not only are they pioneers in online learning, but they have piloted VR learning for their students as well, connecting students globally through VR experiences in biology, chemistry, and history. Companies like Simmula, who work in the language learning space, lean into the power of VR to break through language barriers. Others, like Bodyswaps, focus on developing soft skills through VR experiences. XR possibilities are endless, and options are out there for every market and sector. The bigger challenge, then, may be in finding the right XR experiences to offer and explore. This is where the Global XR Academy is making an impact.
Where Global XR Academy Fits in
Global XR Academy (GXRA) is an XR marketplace that hopes to bridge the gap between XR experiences and content and XR users. Versus visiting individual, specific platforms to see what they offer, GXRA showcases all platforms and hardware in its marketplace. Whether you want to take or offer a credit-bearing course, (e.g., Snow College’s online associate degree), or you want to take or offer a job interview experience (e.g., Bodyswaps’ free Job Interview Simmulator), you can find it all on the GXRA marketplace without having to visit several stores or sites. GXRA is proud of the “Global” part of its name, too. Having a global presence means that there are XR opportunities regardless of location. A learner in Estonia can take middle and high school VR science lessons aligned to Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). A professor in Bogota can have a global reach for their VR lab. Interested learners from around the world can meet in VR and explore a series of strange interactive stories and lessons on character development.
The co-founders of GXRA come from a background of more than 40 years in education, and more specifically, we have a shared background in language learning and education. We have collectively taught every age group and CEFR level known to humanity, and this experience means we explore XR partnerships, platforms, and content through the lens of educational quality and sound pedagogy. This experience is unique in the world of EdTech, where sometimes “Technology” can overshadow “Education.” In addition to curating, hosting, and marketing programs on our marketplace, we are also developing GXRA-branded XR content. This is an exciting development for 2022, as our own quality content will exist in the same marketplace alongside offerings from other XR heavy hitters.
Global XR Academy’s marketplace is currently in beta mode and looking for collaborators and partners. Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and to take the next steps to feature your course in our marketplace.
GXRA: meet you in the marketplace!
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