Virtual Reality for Career and Technical Education
Abstract: Virtual reality (VR) has proven itself to be a viable and ecologically valid tool for learning. In an educational context, simulated environments allow users to engage in an extensive range of learning activities such as exploring the global locations, simulating real-world training events, or emulating medical procedures with realistic fidelity. As VR continues to proliferate both popular culture and educational domains, new uses should be explored or adapted for additional contexts. One area with limited research and a vast potential for use is Career and Technical Education (CTE). Industry professionals increasingly rely on the academic preparation, skills, and workplace readiness promoted in CTE programs, which prepare students in secondary and postsecondary settings for future employment in business and industry. High-quality CTE programs utilize work-based learning strategies to provide students with comprehensive and hands-on experiences when addressing career skills and competencies. Currently, there is a widening CTE skills gap in the United States and a continued disparity of workers to fill the positions that utilize these skills. Research also indicates that middle skilled occupations are not as marketable to the incoming generation of the workforce. This paper reviews the value of supplementing CTE programs with VR experiences as a means to improve access and quality for an evolving workplace.
Presider: Bob Heller, Athabasca University