The next generation of America’s future workforce may still be at school, but the federal government wants to prepare them for a real-world career via virtual reality.
The United States government has launcheda $680,000 competition for developers to build educational simulations that will allow students to practice and hone their skills in an immersive environment. The EdSim Challenge—announced at the recent Virtual Reality Developers Conference in San Francisco—is focused on training in simulated environments, with the goal of improving academic, technical and employability skills.
The U.S. Department of Education-sponsored challenge is aimed at the virtual reality andvideo game community with five finalists advancing to a virtual accelerator phase. Each finalist will receive $50,000, with the eventual winner taking home the remainder of the $680,000. In addition, the finalists will get expert mentorship as they refine the concept and build a simulated prototype.
The competition is now open and developers should submit their concepts no later than January 17, 2017. Developers can register their interest or submissions here.
A multidisciplinary panel will judge the submission and choose the five finalists. These finalists will then take part in the accelerator, which will include a boot camp. Playable prototypes will be presented to the judges at demo day in summer 2017, with the overall winner announced soon after.
How Virtual Reality Can Change Education
In a press release, the U.S. DOE said:
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. Collaboration is encouraged among the developer community to make aspects of simulations available through open source licenses and low-cost shareable components. Education is most interested in simulations that pair the engagement of commercial games with educational content that transfers academic, technical, and employability skills.
Full details of the rules and regulations for the EdSim Challenge can be found here. Developers will need to register on the Luminary Lightbox platform in order to compete.
Every initial submission is subject to the following criteria:
- Learning Outcomes
- Implementation Strategy
- Scalability and Expansion
Once the winners are chosen, they will need to demonstrate a long-term vision for the agreed submission and a reasonable implementation strategy. According to the U.S. DOE, the overall aim of the EdSim challenge is to clearly define how an educational or immersive simulation can improve the workforce both now and for the years to come.
“This initiative 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 the U.S. DOE’s acting assistant secretary for career, technical and adult education Johan Uvin. “We encourage developers from all disciplines to answer our call and help define the future of applied learning.”