Use of VR in Education: Travel Through Time and Space During Classes
Education is an indispensable part of human development. Although it has been a part of our existence for millennia, its role and importance in the modern world are greater than ever before. Whether it happens formally or informally, acquiring useful knowledge can help develop the human mind and make an individual human being a valuable member of society.
Typically, young kids get sent to nursery/elementary school to acquire very basic literacy, cognition, and social skills. In the next step – primary school – the skills and knowledge spectrum get expanded. That pattern continues as the kids acquire secondary education by going through middle and high school where a broader set of subjects and skills are taught.
The next and final level is tertiary education. Though some high school graduates may choose to work at or go into some vocational school, the majority seek admissions into college undergraduate programs. At this educational level, college students are exposed to more advanced courses and heavier academic workload, including all sorts of assignments for which many students may seek help with writing custom essays. After earning a Bachelor’s degree, college graduates are to get a job or continue to study at the postgraduate level where they can earn a Master’s and doctoral degree (Ph.D.).
This is the traditional path which has remained unchanged for years. The only thing that is continuing to evolve is how we learn. When you think about a typical classroom, what’s the first thing that pops into your mind? Students seated in some enclosed space listening to a teacher standing next to a blackboard? This is what is popularly referred to as the traditional model.
But changes are happening and now the emphasis is more on project-based learning which enables students to learn by undertaking practical tasks and solving real-world problems. Adoption of student-centric teaching methods means students get to play a more active role in the way they acquire knowledge at school.
Another important agent of change in how we learn is technology. Its impact is wide and long-lasting. Since the dawn of personal computing and the web, computers have increasingly found their ways into the classroom. They have played a huge role in improving the efficiency of how we learn. Students get to watch educational video materials, pre-recorded or live lectures, and take tests and exams online. Teachers can analyze and track student progress by generating custom learning curriculums with the help of specially designed software.
Another important technology that has emerged over the past decade and holds the promise of transforming the way we learn is Virtual Reality. Abbreviated to VR, it is about creating a computer-generated immersive experience in a simulated environment. Companies like Facebook, Google, Samsung and a host of others are investing enormous resources in advancing this technology.
Virtual Reality has numerous benefits and applications many of which are yet to be fully understood and explored. One key benefit that unlocks so many other possibilities is that it enables us to enter a simulated reality capable of replicating a lot of things and experiences in the real world.
But as far as education is concerned, what applications does it have? Specifically, how can it be used in schools? We’ll attempt to answer that question by explaining the uses of VR in education.
1. Take Students on Virtual Excursions
As the title of this article suggests, VR can be used by educators to take students on virtual exploratory trips around the world and even outer space. By immersing themselves in virtual environments, students get to learn about specific places around the world.
Google Expeditions is one good example of VR application which enables this kind of virtual excursions. This tech can also be used to hold virtual campus tours for prospective students.
2. Take Students Back to the Past
How often did you find yourself bored listening to your history teacher, even though the stories they told you were interesting? That may not be your fault – even with photos and illustrations, learning history is hardly exciting.
But imagine how that learning experience would change if you were able to go back in time and immerse yourself in the past events? Virtual Reality can help you learn history like you never did before. The feeling that you’re witnessing things for yourself can help boost your engagement, retention of knowledge, and curiosity to learn more.
3. Help Students Learn Sciences and Math Through Visualization
VR can dramatically improve the way students learn sciences and math. Through three-dimensional visualization, VR can help them understand difficult physical, chemical, or biological concepts, mechanisms, and processes.
When used in teaching mathematics, VR can help students gain a deeper understanding of math problems by creating relevant scenarios. But it doesn’t stop there, students can interact with objects by conducting tests and experiments themselves.
VR clearly has an edge over alternative solutions such as physical science or math labs, computers or projectors. The downsides of these alternatives include expensiveness or insufficiently safe interactivity, meaning that students may actually get hurt during experiments.
4. Enhance Distance Learning
Distance learning means that students from different geographical locations can study at the same university. Although it allows far greater flexibility, distance learning has its downside, too. Students feel socially isolated as they pursue their education. This stands in contrast to on-campus students who get to interact with their peers and professors in physical lecture halls.
Thanks to VR, distance learning students can do the same. One example of a VR application that provides them with this kind of experience is VR Chat.
One example of a university using this tech is Stanford University. It is Business school offers a certificate program that is delivered with the help of VR.
Virtual Reality, indubitably, holds great promise in the field of education. We haven’t yet seen mass adoption the technology, which means there’s still a lot of untapped potential there.