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Virtual Reality Photo-based Tours for Teaching Filipino Vocabulary in an Online Class in Japan: Transitioning into the New Normal

When educational institutions worldwide scrambled for ways to continue their classes during lockdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the use of information and communication technology (ICT) for remote teaching has become widely considered to be a potential solution. As universities raced to implement emergency remote teaching (ERT) strategies in Japan, some have explored innovative interventions other than webinar platforms and learning management systems to bridge the gap caused by restricted mobility among teachers and learners. One such innovation is virtual reality (VR). VR has been changing the landscape of higher education because of its ability to "teleport" learners to various places by simulating real-world environments in the virtual world. Some teachers, including the authors of this paper, explored integrating VR into their activities to address issues caused by geographical limitations brought about by the heightened restrictions in 2020. Results were largely encouraging. However, rules started relaxing in the succeeding years as more people got vaccinated. Thus, some fully online classes in Japan shifted to blended learning as they moved toward fully returning to in-person classes prompting educators to modify how they implemented their VR-based interventions. This paper describes how a class of university students in Japan who were taking a Filipino language course experienced a VR-based intervention in blended mode, which was originally prototyped during the peak of the ERT era. Moreover, adjustments and comparisons regarding methodological idiosyncrasies and findings between the fully online iteration and the recently implemented blended one are reported in detail.


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