Virtual reality learning helps students get real criminal justice experiences at VSU

Virtual reality lab at VSU
Virtual reality lab at VSU(WALB)
Published: Sep. 29, 2021 at 8:32 PM EDT
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VALDOSTA, Ga. (WALB) - With a new learning era, Valdosta State University has been incorporating virtual reality in the learning experience for students.

Bobbie Ticknor is the coordinator of the lab and professor.

Virtual reality lab at VSU
Virtual reality lab at VSU(WALB)

With a background in software development and a desire to positively impact the criminal justice system, she combined the two.

Taking students on a digital learning experience that gives an intimate perspective that traditional learning can’t provide.

“I’ve had students sit through this and come out literally crying, some are angry, some were reflective,” said Ticknor.

When students in this class put on the headset, they are teleported to a different time, place, and experience.

Virtual reality lab at VSU
Virtual reality lab at VSU(WALB)

The graphics are surreal.

“For example, last week we did an experience where they were in solitary confinement. I want them to experience it so they can understand this is something in the prison system that we do every day,” said Ticknor.

Other experiences include seeing a wrongful conviction through the individual’s eyes or a child visiting a parent in prison.

After watching, the class reflects.

Ticknor says these virtual reality lessons help students learn, remain focused, engaged and motivated.

“I’ve had students email me after taking classes where I’ve done this and said, actually just yesterday, ' I really wasn’t interested in corrections but I took your class and we sat through solitary confinement and I sat through some of these experiences and now, I’m going into this because I want to be a lawyer for prisoner rights,” said Ticknor.

Skielor Jackson and Alkedria Lewis have been taking the course.

Both are getting degrees in criminal justice.

They say movies and books wouldn’t have been able to teach what virtual reality has provided.

“It takes a strong-minded person to go through something like this. You really have to have the stomach and mindset for it. It’s definitely not for the weak,” said Jackson.

“The VR experience has really put us in the place of individuals in the past. Whether you’re an inmate within the correctional facility or an actual person during the Civil Rights Movements, it’s helped us invoke the emotions that they would have and understand in-depth,” said Lewis.

VSU is one of a few universities that have this technology.

There’s a range of technology and headsets available, with different prices and usage.

Ticknor says the lab is used for other classes in history, biology, chemistry, and fine arts. It’s a multipurpose lab.

This just may be the future of learning.

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