An exploratory case study on the pedagogical possibilities of educational cinematic virtual reality in high school English classes.


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While immersive technology has migrated from specialized industry use to wholesale classroom applications, high school student reading of classical literature in secondary English classrooms has declined. At the start of the 2020s American education’s dependence on technology increased as a necessary institutional response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This exploratory case study examined the possible secondary English applications of How Do We Love Thee? (Gardner, 2021), an immersive educational cinematic virtual reality (edcuCVR) experience created by the researcher. The application of cinematic virtual reality to secondary literature curriculum had not occurred before this study; therefore, in order to create a wholistic perspective on How Do We Love Thee? as an educational resource participant data was analyzed holistically. Literary scholars and practitioners have noted that the reading of classical literature enables individuals to become wide-awake to their world (Cianciolo, 1982; Kingsolver, 2018; Rosenblatt, 1983; Rosenblatt 1994). Research suggests that engaging with literature can help students become more wide-awake to their world (Steedly, 2003); as such, the aesthetic educational framework of wide-awakeness, as defined by Maxine Greene, was used as a framework to create semi-structured questions, define protocol, and discuss results. Three high school English teachers with English degrees from various regions were purposefully selected for this study. Participants were selected through surveys and individual interviews via Google Hangout. In addition to their education and teaching status, each participant also possessed the technological ability to experience How Do We Love Thee? immersed via a head mounted display (HMD). The study was conducted in three phases: a group introduction to immersive technology underpinning How Do We Love Thee?, individual viewings of the eduCVR experience, and post-viewing semi-structured interviews. Due to Covid-19 data was collected in two ways – an online two person semi-structured interview and an in-person single semi-structured interview. Results from the study indicated that participants believe that the use of the eduCVR resource How Do We Love Thee? in their classrooms will positively influence student interest in classical literature by serving as an introduction to authorial background while introducing a new medium in a unique way. Participants were excited by inclusive nature of the eduCVR experience, noting that it would appeal to all types of students, not just those interested in English. Furthermore, participants praised the cross-curricular nature of How Do We Love Thee? and were eager for other eduCVR experiences. Future studies could include replicating this study with a larger sample size to determine the veracity of these findings, utilizing How Do We Love Thee? with high school English students to determine how the experience both affectively and cognitively impacts them, investigating best practices for English classroom use, and comparing the impact of the eduCVR immersive resource to non-immersive resources.