Our initial attempts involved trying to use a WebVR framework, which is experiencing virtual Reality through a web browser; however, we later transitioned to a Unity framework as it provides easier tools for experimenting with learning pedagogies. The prototyping process started from content development, with educators developing the learning content and lesson objectives. A content creation process followed this and involved turning the lesson objectives and learning goals into media formats: 360 video experience, 2D videos, 3D Interactivity and Assessments. Subsequently, we created a narrative interactivity flow that described how the learner progressed through the various elements of a lesson. Throughout our prototyping stage, we ensured regular usability testing, feedback gathering and iterating several times before reaching the final solution.
During one of our teacher testing sessions, we had science teachers from across the Ga-East district, both male and female, as young as mid-twenties and as old as early sixties. The feedback and responses were reflective of their age group. We were surprised to see responses that challenged our assumptions in ways we could not have predicted. The most memorable example was when one of the older teachers, on seeing a video play button (the triangle in the circle) complained about getting stuck. On inquiring, she said she was seeing an “eye with a triangle”. That left us confused. In fact, it took a while until we realised the playing video had paused and the play button had come on the screen to resume playback. We had innocently used what we thought was universally understood, but testing with a broad swatch of users proved to be particularly valuable.
Being open-source has made NubianVR’s cause more appealing to potential collaborators in the developer and creative community. Of the 35 developers and creators we interacted and collaborated with throughout our creation and testing processes, 100% wished to contribute towards our project. These collaborators would allow us to develop a community of contributors that can advance our open-source project vision.
NubianVR is cultivating a business model that has its roots in content subscriptions. We charge individuals, schools & organizations a premium to access VR learning experiences. We also complement this by additional services that include:
i. Advocacy Services - helping non-governmental organizations such as UN Women and UN Refugees create lessons to drive the social and emotional learning agenda
ii. Commissioned Development - design and creation of media-based learning tools and experiences
iii. VR-on-Demand Services - providing content and hardware subscription-based rental service to schools that are unable to bear the cost of VR devices
iv. Deployment Services - helping organizations and learning institutions develop and maintain VR labs
One of the biggest obstacles we ran into was building a VR learning solution that was cross-platform and device agnostic. During prototyping, our goal was to build in WebVR, but we transitioned to the Unity framework, which offers moremuch versatility. Some of our other challenges included; staffing the team with the locally available talent familiar with VR development. Finally, VR hardware cost is one of the biggest inhibitions towards adoption of VR for schools.; Our team had to think through a walkaround solution to jump the hurdle of schools having to buy headsets,; hence our VR-on-Demand Service package.