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The Road to VR: Thinking About Gaming Consoles as Ed-Tech Devices

by Gabe Baker
VR-Ready Gaming Consoles Are Coming. Edorble is Getting Ready.

Most ed-tech products and platforms are built for and work fine on popular laptops and mobile devices. The reason for that is simple. Most of them are web-based and they don't require heavy duty processing power or the graphical prowess found in hardware like gaming consoles, which are capable of rendering incredibly complex, beautiful graphics. It doesn't take an X-Box to run Edmodo, or a Playstation 4 to run Google Apps for Education, and that's a good thing!

When it comes to hardware that schools and teachers talk about as ed-tech devices, it's common to hear about laptops, PCs, chromebooks, tablets, or smartphones. It's not so common to hear about gaming consoles. Arguably, "gaming console" is becoming an obsolete term, as recent consoles like the X-Box One and PS4 let users do far more than game. The X-Box one has apps like Skype, TED, Youtube, and Internet Explorer. The PS4 has a tighter focus on entertainment, but one can still browse the web on it through a web browser. It's clear that Sony and Microsoft are thinking about these consoles as tools that can support more than just gaming. It's also clear that they are thinking about the consoles as portals to virtual reality, with Playstation VR being a VR headset that integrates with the Playstation 4, and Project Scorpio being an upcoming iteration of the X-Box One that is designed to support a variety of VR experiences and integrations. This is where things get interesting for us here at Edorble as we think about these consoles as devices that can support social learning experiences, and how our 3D social learning platform might look on them.  


Edorble is a 3D virtual world for online education, so in contrast to most ed-tech tools, it actually does benefit from the kinds of processing/graphics power found in these consoles and the highest-end PCs. Because we're building Edorble for virtual reality headsets (here's a post about that), there's a strong chance that one of the best ways for many users, especially students, to access Edorble will be through a VR-capable gaming console. We know that students will still see these consoles primarily as "gaming" tools, and they might be hesitant to open up "educational" tools on them. We can certainly sympathize with this, but it's worth noting that we're working hard to make Edorble as playful as we can.

It's our philosophy that learning, like life, should be more playful than it usually is. We can't wait to see what Edorble looks like on the next generation of VR-enabled gaming consoles.