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ASU using Hollywood storytelling to improve learning

Posted at 9:53 PM, Mar 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-30 14:47:44-04

TEMPE, AZ — For months, Arizona State University has been using new virtual reality labs where students come in, put on a headset, and jump into a world designed by a moviemaker.

Dreamscape Learn was created in partnership with Hollywood producer Walter Parkes who is known for his work on Men in Black and Gladiator.

"We're kind of bringing entertainment and education together, we've called it edu-tainment," said Lisa Flesher, chief of Realm 4 Project Accelerator.

"We're trying to stay away from that but I think you're right -- there's a big entertainment aspect and narrative storytelling aspect to this that typically isn't always seen in education," she said.

Instead of sitting in class, students can cover the same topics in a virtual world.

Teachers and students told ABC15 they like the changes.

"It's really exciting because as a teacher it enables you to rethink how you teach and with virtual reality we can put students into situations, taking them places they wouldn't be able to go to in a classroom," said Michael Angilletta, associate director of the learning initiative.

ASU student Dallas Repier shared that same sentiment.

"This one, while it is a little slower pace, I think that helps me a lot," he said.

"It specifies things, it's very clear. A lot more enjoyable. You're not dreading it," Repier added.

School officials said they're still waiting to see what kind of impact the virtual reality has on grades.

However, students do fill out surveys asking them if they like learning this way and most say they do.

Right now, the technology is only being used by biology classes but the school said they plan on expanding it to other programs and majors in the near future.