Sean Wybrant

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    384 comments  ·  Oculus Quest 2 and Quest » General  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
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    Sean Wybrant commented  · 

    To Whom It May Concern:

    I have a Facebook account, appreciate the opportunity to connect with my friends/families/colleagues/communities for both personal and professional reasons, and generally support the platform; I have also been a guest at FB headquarters, worked with people on your staff, and presented from your studio. I have also been a part of the group that informed the Facebook Educator Guide. I have been a supporter of many of your platforms in a personal capacity and a cautious participant from a professional capacity where I have tried to inform your approaches, at your request, in order to provide some guidance and oversight about educational matters.

    As an educator and a developer I am seriously frustrated by this change, and as a personal user I am equally frustrated and concerned.

    The idea that you are going to make VR hardware widely accessible and then restrict access to the hardware, especially after people have paid for it, is very concerning. This is doubly so for educators and schools that have repurposed funding for the promise the Oculus Quest provides, but who will now not be able to use them because their districts will not allow Facebook accounts. For programs like mine, where kids are trying to develop experiences for hardware like this or in projects like a current project I am working on with the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs this change will push us into a space of developing for alternatives to the Quest and probably the entire Oculus line as well. That would be a shame for both of us I am pretty sure; for example, in addition to the work I am doing with UCCS, I took your headsets with me to teach underrepresented students in Saipan about developing for your hardware and have been working with a group of students to make an experience to let people see and interact with content and models of real WWII wreckage sites in an experience that will be put on display at The National Museum of WWII Aviation. High school students made those things in partnership with people from industry and post-secondary programs; we will continue to do this work, we just might have to do it with a different hardware manufacturer.

    While education is currently a niche community in the VR space, eventually it is going to be a major player and you will lose or delay many of the promising developers in our programs to other headset manufacturers who do not put this kind of restriction on the use of their hardware over the course of the coming years. Even worse from a long term perspective you run the risk of making the educators who have been on the journey with you from early days abandon their support of your company and hardware, and that has long-term, deep ramifications for the development of the next major market in VR, at least for Oculus.

    In a more base sense, this decision goes against the promise of giving both developers and end users the freedom to make their own decisions about how best to develop for, support, and use your services. There is very little benefit from this decision to the majority of the people who have spent time, energy, effort, money, and good will to attract people into the space of developing for these technologies. This is especially, if not astoundly so for those of us in the education space. While many users may not revolt and sell their headsets as they threaten in so many posts, many of us in the education space are now having to make the very real and long term decision to do so. If people like me in the education space choose to go somewhere else it will be very difficult to bring us back; I am about to have to have some hard conversations with people who have funded the purchase of headsets that we now risk the possibility of no longer being able to use. I am only one teacher, and my program isn't known for making the next big game or for making mindblowing releases, but I am known as one of the people who is making it possible for you to have future developers for platforms like yours and I have literally changed the way that kids around the world see the possibilities of hardware like yours; I would hate to have to point out your approach to Oculus accounts as both the prime example of ethical issues one faces when working with companies/developers and of why one should be very careful about how they make decisions about who/what to develop for/with. I don't make games, I make it possible for students to envision a completely different future, and I really hoped that in our journey you would be a part of those visions; with this change, I don't know that I would be able to make that commitment.

    I will be sending this posting to people at Facebook and Oculus through email as well, but please feel free to contact me at sean.wybrant@d11.org or at sean@craftingheroes.com if you would like to have a conversation.

    Sincerely,

    Sean Wybrant
    Educator - Digital Media Studies
    2017 Colorado Teacher of the Year

    Sean Wybrant supported this idea  · 

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