By Angellyn Phua
Storytelling, and its evolution as a medium, can be traced to the early origins of the human experience. From its origins as a live oral presentation, to handwritten scriptures, paintings, photographs, and moving picture cinema. In our current day, thanks to the internet and advancements in everyday technology storytelling is now immersed with unlimited variations in mass multimedia formats. In recent years, storytelling has made its leap to one of the most interesting technological advancements to date, Virtual Reality (VR).
A few weeks ago, at the beginning of what would wind up being a hectic March of Covid-19 related disruptions to the everyday normality, I was given the amazing opportunity to attend the "Collaborative and Immersive Scientific Storytelling Through VR Experiences" presentation; featuring Dr. Poh Tan and Quincy Wang at Science World in British Columbia, Canada. Attendance at the presentation was a mix of educators, and teachers that branched from a variety of formal and non-formal settings. When talking to Dr. Poh after the presentation, we both agreed that a portion of the audience had most likely expected the presentation to focus on the technical side of VR. In other words, some audience members may have the presentation focused on coding language and software technology. I was pleasantly surprised, much as the audience that Poh and Quincy approached VR education from a more holistic lens. The presentation explored how VR could be used as an educational tool in the classroom and furthermore, how VR technology can create a more relational space and collaborative storytelling and making between students and educators. The platform was aimed at creating a virtual scientific experience that interprets concepts and environments that the eye cannot reach. Promoting the use of science where textbooks alone could not spark a connection, in a similar manner to science themed television shows that were aimed to connect the audience to scientific material. However, television storytelling remains two dimensional and separates the audience from what they are experiencing unlike VR, which is three dimensional in nature and immersive.