Virtual reality is one of the most exciting technologies being developed today. Over the past few years, it has been theorized that virtual reality technology has the potential to change many industries and fields of study. One of those fields is the area of education. Look at some of the ways virtual reality is set to transform education.
Teaching and learning can be transformed through VR’s ability to provide immersive experiences. Virtual field trips will aid in the understanding of many different subjects from science to history. Thus far, however, virtual reality has been slow to impact education, mostly because it is expensive to implement, and the most fertile ground for VR development in education—elementary, middle, and high schools—is often strapped for cash.
That being said, VR is on its way to mainstream integration in other fields, primarily those impacting the areas of entertainment, and it is expected to become more prevalent in the education landscape in the coming years. Big players in the technology and education spaces, including Google and Facebook, are already bringing virtual reality applications to the classroom. Considering how virtual reality is increasingly being used to facilitate teaching and learning, here are five ways VR can be applied in the classroom.
Virtual field trips.
Field trips are a great method of learning. They give students an up close and personal experience that, for many, educates far better than any book or film could do. With that in mind, it is no surprise that virtual field trips are set to become one of the most popular applications of virtual reality technology in education. Many schools already use the Google Expedition app, which is free to download on iOS or Android, and can be used with an affordable cardboard headset incorporated with a smartphone. By way of the app and these simple, low-cost headsets, students can instantly be transported to European castles, Asian temples, Mayan ruins, the vast reaches of outer space, and the dark depths of the sea.
It is often pointed out that one of the best ways, if not the best way, to learn a language is to live in a country where that language is spoken natively. Living where the language is spoken immerses the student in the culture and accents of the native speakers. Most people, however, are unable to just move to and live in another country just to learn a language. That’s where virtual language immersion comes in. Apps such as Unimersiv, which is used with the Oculus Rift headset, allow people to practice their language skills with others all over the world.
Which is the better way to learn how to do something: being told how to do it or being coached through as you do it yourself? Virtual reality simulations help students learn skills through hands-on practice (at least, virtually) without any of the risk involved. Google’s Daydream labs carried out an experiment between people who were taught how to make coffee either through a video tutorial or in a VR setting. They were then asked to make coffee in the real world, and those with VR skills training pulled it off faster and with fewer mistakes.
With VR technology, centuries-old theories can be tested with modern technology. For example, the Sevenoaks School in the UK used VR headsets to introduce philosophy students to Rene Descartes’ dream argument set forth in his Meditations on First Philosophy. VR provided a more tangible way of “seeing” and interacting with the argument.
The use of VR is a no-brainer for keeping students creative and engaged when it comes to architecture. The Oculus Rift headset can place viewers into 3D building models where they can examine and experiment with different building techniques. For example, an Irish primary school uses VR for students to build and reconstruct historical sites.
While these are just a few of the ways in which virtual reality is set to transform education, you can be on the lookout for other ways in which virtual reality implementation in education becomes strategically important over the next few years. The real challenge is to figure out which subjects and teaching methods would work best with virtual reality and helping kids adapt to it.