There are many positive implications associated with virtual reality technology. In the educational industry, VR can unlock a lot of new opportunities. One such option is being explored in New Zealand. Ian Taylor wants to offer inmates a different approach to learning new skills and obtaining relevant information.
VR as an Educational Tool in Prisons
Various statistics are associated with inmates and prisons. One worrisome statistic is how 65% of inmates may need help with literacy and numeracy. That is a big obstacle to overcome, and one that cannot always be solved through traditional means. Instead, the role of innovative technologies cannot be ignored in this regard. Ian Taylor, a digital pioneer in New Zealand, currently explores a very different approach.
His experience with animation and virtual reality can be put to good use in this regard. His company, known as Taylor Made Media, has built a virtual environment where inmates don a VR headset. They will be transformed to a virtual world where they can walk into a garage. At that location, users need to read certain signs and learn how to open doors. It is a very immersive project, albeit one that also goes much further.
Ian Taylor explains this business venture as follows:
“One of the real barriers to developing their literacy and numeracy when you’re dyslexic is being presented with a wall of text. More workbooks and more textbooks and just more reminders of maybe what did not work for you the first time. This is an opportunity to reset things.”
As inmates work on the car in front of them, they will also have to pass literacy and numeracy “tests”. For now, this VR experience is only being tested at the Otago prison, where 12 inmates serve as “beta testers and consultants”. This further confirms the current experience is still rather small in scale, but that is only to be expected. It will take a lot of time and effort prior to bringing this VR experience to all inmates in New Zealand.
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