Virtual Reality provides a disruptive platform for teaching and learning, in an immersive, realistic and, most importantly, interactive three-dimensional environment. Virtual reality also provides the means of exploration, to construct visuals and manipulable objects to represent knowledge. This leads to a constructivist way of learning, in the sense that students are allowed to build their own knowledge from meaningful experiences.
In this lecture, we discuss the development and use of VR technology to visualize abstract concepts pertaining to the theory of electromagnetism (E&M), which is at the core of Electrical Engineering education. For electromagnetic fields and related phenomena, that are three-dimensional in nature, this multiple-perspective-taking and immersion that VR allows can aid students in better understanding electromagnetic fields, charge distributions, charged surfaces, and the behavior of charged particles in these various spaces.
The VR software development is entirely done by undergraduate students at UIUC, allowing them to participate in the education of their peers. To date, 100+ undergraduate students from seven different departments have been working on the software development, while hundreds of other students have used these VR experiences in the classroom.