People are constantly looking for ways to improve education and make learning more engaging and effective. We’ve progressed to a digital age where search engines help us find information instantly and e-books keep us informed on the move. Even mobile apps teach us languages now. So why not learn through emerging technologies such as virtual reality?
Virtual Reality for education is predicted to be a $200 million industry by 2020. It’s already a popular tool in schools in the UK and US. Also researchers at Warwick University found that VR headsets are the most stimulating method of learning out there! But what makes VR such a vital tool for education is how it enhances learning and memory recall. Immersing in virtual locations helps us organise and remember information spatially. This is because you associate the information with visual features in the environment. We also require less cognitive load to process it all.
So we’ve decided to give you a few reasons and examples of why & how VR can be a powerful tool for education that will make you want to keep learning!
Learning through doing with VR
It’s much easier to learn something whilst experiencing it. Instead of reading a large amount of text in a book, when you put on a VR headset, you can instantly immerse with the topic first hand. This inspires students to discover and work things out for themselves. It lets them learn about the subjects through doing.
Unimersiv VR takes students on a journey back through time, helping them visualize the places they’re learning about – perfect for history lessons! You can travel on-board the Titanic, the international space station or to ancient Rome. The visually appealing tours give students a better understanding of historical events/places in an effective and entertaining manner. It’s also a very useful tool for teachers when having to explain specific content that matches the experiences in the app.
Interestingly ‘Unimersiv VR’ has a VR classroom where professionals can present their own courses via a virtual avatar using PowerPoint slides and audio recordings. Whether this part of the app is engaging enough for students is uncertain. This is as it’s essentially recreating traditional teaching methods in VR.
This type of content translates well to foreign language students. The animations and interactive features are easier to understand compared to listening exercises.
Increasing engagement through VR & gamification
Gamification of VR experiences can make any subject more entertaining! Take DELIVR IT, an education experience that shows students and job seekers the opportunities working in the Logistics industry. A subject like logistics may not seem interesting at first, but the storytelling, attractive animations and interactions engage the user on the topic. Users follow the journey of a mobile phone from the factory through the supply chain to the buyer. During the journey they get to perform mini-job tasks, such as operating a crane, driving a truck, and scanning packages.
DELIVR IT is already being used in schools across the South East of England. If you’re curious to try it, just go to the Oculus Go store and download it for free!
Reducing cost with VR training
Schools and universities constantly have to invest in equipment for their students, such as science lab apparatus, medical appliances etc. With tight budgets this means that the ratio of equipment to students is small and all this equipment needs maintaining and updating. VR training simulators allow educators to scale at a far lower cost. You’ll only pay for software licensing costs and some relatively inexpensive virtual reality hardware.
Arch Virtual creates VR medical training experiences that help students practice surgical operations. They practice medical procedures in virtual reality environments before conducting them for real. This works out to be far more cost and space effective than providing these facilities for every student.
VR & Online distance learning
The potential for online distance learning is enhanced through VR, bridging the gap between the educator and student. Social and collaborative learning is important. Experiential VR experiences enable online students and lecturers to transport themselves, as virtual characters, into the same virtual world. As the teacher guides the student through experiences, they all get a sense of being in the same room.
This form of online learning gives opportunities for personal feedback. Also both people in the experience are actively involved. What’s more is that people from anywhere in the world can come together in the same virtual space. Although many people still consider going to a traditional university or school as the principal way to educate themselves, VR online learning can be a great alternative.
Using VR to increase inclusivity
Every student loves a school trip- whether that’s going to a museum, theatre or exploring another country. Unfortunately for some it may be difficult to attend these trips due to a disability, lack of funds, transport problems etc. With VR, you won’t have to miss the fun, as you can experience these trips without the travelling!
Google Expeditions VR, available on cardboard and daydream, lets you go on virtual field trips to countries around the world, such as the great wall of China, Mount Everest or the Louvre. Obviously it’s not as fun as actually going on a real field trip, but the technology allows experiences to happen that would otherwise be impossible for some people.
These examples show the amazing possibilities of VR as an education tool. Student’s grasp information easily through being able to visualise concepts that were previously restricted to a text book. VR also brings about a fun alternative to online distance learning, can bring about inclusivity and is cost and space effective for schools. Overall, we’re very excited to see what the future of educational technology holds!