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U.S. Department of Education Challenges Community to Develop the Next Generation of Virtual Reality Experiences

U.S. Department of Education Challenges Community to Develop the Next Generation of Virtual Reality Experiences

Yesterday the U.S. Department of Education announced the EdSim Challenge, a competition that is looking for “next generation simulations that strengthen career and technical skills.”

The simulations, specifically, will focus on creating the next generation of virtual and augmented reality experiences.

The challenge asks that competitors combine commercial gaming with rigorous educational content to help students best develop the skills needed for the modern-day workforce.

Competitors will have until January 17, 2017, to submit their first submission, which must answer:

  • How the entry will engage students and transform the user’s knowledge and skills
  • What the team’s strengths are and what level of commitment to the project they have
  • What implementation strategy they will use down to the tools/software needed
  • How potential barriers might get in the way of deploying the simulation
  • What their long-term vision for how the simulation will ultimately fit into Career and Technical Education (CTE)

In addition, the entry must include visual assets that illustrate the design’s major features through a basic storyboard.

"The Challenge seeks to spur the development of computer-generated virtual and augmented reality educational experiences that combine existing and future technologies with skill-building content and assessment,” said the Department in its announcement of the challenge.

After the deadline for submissions closes, a panel of judges will evaluate entries and select five finalists, each who will receive $50,000 to "gain access to expert mentorship as they refine their concept and build a simulation prototype.”

The final winning team will receive "the remainder of the $680,000 prize money and additional sponsor prizes from IBM, Microsoft, Oculus, and Samsung.”

Funded by the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006, the EdSim Challenge is reminiscent of the CTE Makeover Challenge, a challenge that called on high schools to create a makerspace that gave students "access to the tools to design, build, and innovate, ultimately strengthening next-generation career and technical schools.”

Similar in format to the EdSim Challenge, CTE Makeover Challenge participants were asked to submit design plans, after which ten winners were chosen to receive funding to make their designs a reality.

Both the EdSim Challenge and the CTE Makeover Challenge are part of Ed Prizes, an initiative that supports the Department of Education's interest in capitalizing on current education trends to see out their full potential by inspiring the best and the brightest to compete.

The EdSim Challenge "is an exciting example of how virtual reality and game technologies can be applied to give students everywhere the tools to prepare for future success,” said Johan Uvin, acting assistant secretary for career, technical, and adult education in a statement.

“We encourage developers from all disciplines to answer our call and help define the future of applied learning.”

Read the full list of EdSim Challenge rules here.

Nicole Gorman, Senior Education World Contributor


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