November 2, 2017
The education industry has come a long way. The days when students had to rely on textbooks to understand the solar system or the topography of a continent are gone! Not too long ago, there was the computer and tablet boom, which eased the scope of understanding. But the computers and the tablets were inept in conveying the message to students who usually comprised of kids between the age group of 7-12, and teens in the age group of 13-19. Now that virtual reality is revolutionizing the education industry, it is helping students in the age brackets understand the solar system and historical places with ease.
When I was in classes 6-12, gathering information a particular topic meant that I had to walk to the local library or stay back after school hours to visit the school library and figure out which book to read. Most of my time was spent in figuring out which book will have the most information and the best one to gather information from. Children these days needn’t go through this long and drawn out process. The internet is helping them in ways that we cannot fathom. Through the power of technology, students can now search for a myriad of topics and get the latest and accurate information. The experience is being furthered with the advent of VR. Students only have to strap on gear VR or use google cardboard to have an immersive experience.
The emphasis is on providing an environment where students find the experience memorable, while being simple enough that everyone can use it. VR is the only technology that provides both these facets.
I’m not taking anything away from books, they are the best way students can improve their imagination. However, VR is a truly immersive experience. It’s like going on a field trip without having to leave the four walls of a classroom. And if we recollect the times that we have gone on field trips, there is something that always sticks with us for the rest of our lives. Now imagine the learning a child can do if he/she goes on a field trip twice in a week!
Unlike computers or tablets, VR is far more interactive. It provides schools, colleges, and universities a new way of teaching, and to students a new way of learning. Not just students, teachers and professors can use VR to their advantage.
eLearning, a concept that was considered revolutionary a decade ago is slowly fading into the darkness. VR can resuscitate it. eLearning is all about educating individuals in an environment that is as close to real life as possible. VR helps bridge this gap. 3600 videos help students of all ages understand concepts better. They also simplify logistics for eLearning companies – the student and the trainer need not physically be in the same room together. Corporates and enterprises can also use VR to educate and train their employees at a fraction of the cost.
Here are five outcomes of virtual reality in the education industry:
1. VR leads to increased collaboration, which often leads to great social interaction between learners. Becoming a part of a class can sometimes be a struggle for some students. Such students are better accepted by their peers when all of them are experiencing the same thing. Additionally, students who lack confidence in certain subjects become self-assured. Studies have proven that VR helps slow-learners improve as well. VR helps students in the way they need. As the onus is given to the students, they can choose if they wish to skip a concept or take it slow and understand it completely.
Augmented reality and virtual reality empowers students to learn new concepts quickly.
2. VR helps kids walk around in a virtual environment and understand ideas better. VR allows for practical learning. We spoke about going on field trips and some concepts sticking to us. Similarly, VR helps in infusing practical knowledge on many topics. Also, certain concepts cannot be explained through simple textbooks, VR can help in these cases – what is not possible in reality can be possible in virtual reality. Game based learning is also something that is gathering steam in the education industry.
3. VR based games helps increase motivation. Engagement and motivation are two key components of game-based learning. Why is it motivating? Because it is a game – it is fun, which makes a considerable difference. Also, the kinesthetic and visual experiences of the virtual world help in children’s learning ability.
4. New rewarding techniques. Traditional assessment of academic achievements meant scoring kids based on their performance in tests, which usually transcribed into progress cards. With virtual reality, the concept of scoring and incentives can change. I personally feel that the traditional methods of scoring should be completely abolished. There should be a focused effort on what children learn and the way they use their knowledge in real life. And failures should be generally ignored – but also used as crucial lessons to teach concepts better. Rewards help engage a child’s brain and push them to ask questions. Similarly, emotional rewards should not be ignored as well, as they play a vital role in creating a desire to study more. Ideally, for children to learn through virtual reality, the lessons should be difficult enough so that they take a few attempts to clear it. This way children use different methods and strategies to solve the problem. Source – Silicon India Magazine.
Augumented Reality and Virtual Reality should force children to think and use their imagination. They should provide a new world where there are no boundaries.
5. VR helps in one-on-one learning. Contrary to popular belief, VR does help in one-on-one learning. This is something that some students need. Using technology, teachers can connect with individual students and guide them. This can be done without spending any additional resource.
Real-life examples of Virtual Reality in education:
Nearpod, an interactive tool, is designed for teachers to engage their students with interactive lessons. Using this tool, the students of two school districts – San Francisco Unified School District, and Polk County Public Schools in Florida, had their first VR trip to the pyramids of Egypt, the marine biomes of the Great Barrier Reef, caves on the Easter Island, and to Mars. Though VR the children of the two districts also learnt about the various patriotic landmarks in the US and could experience a view from the world’s tallest building in Dubai.
If you want to learn a language the best way is visit the country where it is spoken. VR helps bring countries to your living room. Last year, a UK based VR team VirtualSpeech launched the beta version of their VR app called Language VR. This app helps in learning a new language by taking you, virtually, to countries where the language you want to learn is spoken. The app has many roleplaying situations though which individuals can easily learn a language.
The education industry is undergoing a radical change and VR is expected to be the gamechanger. With VR teachers have the option of focusing on each and every student. For students the experience is so immersive that they would proactively want to study and learn new concepts. VR also allows for collaboration, abolishing traditional assessing methods, gamification, and new rewarding techniques. With VR students will learn through preference rather than force. VR would help in unshackling students from their desks, and memorization of concepts, it would create lasting experiences for students.
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