Here at Techly, we know the virtual reality revolution is coming, and no place is more evident of that fact than Japan.
Recently we talked about the first major VR film release, Ghost in the Shell Virtual Reality Diver, and now they Land of the Rising Sun have taken the first steps towards VR schools.
When I saw the event coverage on Mogura VR, I was immediately reminded of the recent novel Ready Player One, in which all youngsters attend school through virtual reality headsets.
While Ready Player One provides the most in-depth representation of the concept that I have seen, it is certainly not the first.
Virtual-reality assisted schools have appeared in science-fiction novels, films and television for decades – even appearing in the 1993 episode of The Simpsons, ‘Marge vs. the Monorail’.
Often when it appears in popular culture, it is explained that VR took over from physical schools for practical reasons, such as cost, distance, or class size – and the Tokyo VR attendees of N High School‘s Entrance Ceremony definitely fell into these categories.
While these students attended the Entrance Ceremony in Tokyo, their actual, physical school campus was over 1400 kilometres away, in Okinawa.
According to representatives of N High School, the Tokyo VR students accounted for 73 of their 1482 first-year students – so the VR attendee numbers were relatively small, but still, that’s 73 more VR attendees than any other school.
N High School established in April of this year by Kadokawa Dwango, a Japanese corporation specialising in entertainment and technology – so it’s unsurprising that the school offers courses in subjects like software programming and game design.
The school itself is a combination of online and physical teaching methods, with most lectures available via online video streaming, allowing students to watch them when it’s convenient – and, of course, take tests after each session.
Unique to N High School however, is that in addition to the online lectures and assessments, students are required to actually attend school for five days each year, as stipulated under education ministry guidelines.
Whether that means they will have to make the 2900-kilometre round-trip from Okinawa to Tokyo five times a year, or they can simply clock those days up through VR, remains unclear.
I’m just disappointed that I never got a chance to be taught by Genghis Khan, defile what he defiled, or eat who he ate.