Walden University’s social work program piloted a virtual reality (VR) experience with Daydream and Cardboard to simulate the unpredictable environments of on-site visits. Based on the pilot’s success, Walden is developing more VR trainings across its diverse curriculum.
Walden’s Innovation Incubator is focused on developing new digital experiences, tools, and applications for its students, with VR being a top initiative because of its ability to deliver experiential learning from any location.
Walden’s first VR pilot for students simulates the difficult scenarios social workers might encounter in the field. The pilot allows for students to learn in a safe, yet realistic environment, as these situations can be challenging for even highly-trained social workers.
“One of the most attractive components of VR is knowing that our students can experience simulations of real-life work scenarios without having to travel somewhere,” says Steve Tom, Walden's chief strategy and transformation officer. “VR also allows for our students to explore and learn various methods for handling difficult social work scenarios without putting them or those they are trying to help in harm’s way.”
For the VR pilot, Walden chose to build the experience on Daydream, Google's platform for mobile VR. They then brought the content to Cardboard VR headsets to make the experience even more accessible to all their students.
“With this pilot, we wanted to prove that VR can not only be integrated into the student learning experience effectively, but that it’s also worth the investment,” says Tom. “Google’s hardware fit our needs perfectly, especially in making the technology as easy and highly intuitive as possible for our students. It requires very little training and setup, allowing for our students to use the technology within minutes.”