Over the last several years, we’ve heard a lot about how virtual reality has the ability to change the way we learn and teach, from offering in-depth knowledge and assisting us in understanding complex subjects to facilitate language immersion and virtual travels. Although VR technology should be an incredible tool for learning and teaching in principle, the truth is that it has been reluctant to take off in educational settings, owing in large part to the high cost of implementation.
Nonetheless, expectations are that by 2019, VR will be commonplace, and some of the key players in the education and technology industries, such as Google and Facebook, are actively seeking classroom applications. We decided to look at some of the most noteworthy examples of how virtual reality is already being used by schools and learning institutions throughout the world to give you an idea of how VR will eventually help to learn.
1. Online field excursions
Virtual field trips have become one of the most popular applications of VR technology for learning, and many schools have begun to use Google Expeditions to send pupils to remote, even unreachable, corners of the globe. Teachers can invest in low-cost cardboard headsets that can be hooked to a smartphone by downloading the Google Expedition app for free on IOS or Android. Students can actively explore everything from Machu Picchu to outer space or the deep sea with these inexpensive headgears.
2. Immersion in the language
Full immersion is one of the finest ways to learn a new language since it requires pupils to listen to and speak the language they’re studying all day, every day. Because most of us cannot afford to travel to another nation for weeks or even months at a time, virtual immersion is the best we can do. Virtual reality simulations can fool the brain into thinking the experiences are real, and a slew of new language learning apps that leverage VR is in the works. University is one such program that can be used in conjunction with the Oculus Rift device. The software allows students to connect with people from all around the world while playing games and communicating with other students in a virtual world.
3. Skill development
Virtual reality simulations can also assist students in learning practical skills. One of the most significant advantages of training individuals in this manner is that students can learn from realistic scenarios without the risk of practicing a new skill in an uncontrolled real-life environment. A study conducted by Google’s Daydream labs discovered that those who received VR training learned faster and better than those who were just offered video instructions. The interactive learning experiment was designed to teach students how to make coffee, and students were either shown a YouTube instruction on how to pull espresso shots or permitted to practice in VR. Students from both groups were asked to make coffee in the real world after training for as long as they wanted. Students who trained using virtual reality made fewer mistakes and were faster at pulling espresso shots than those who followed video instructions.
4. Philosophical ideas
Virtual reality can even bring intellectual theories to life. The Sevenoaks School in the United Kingdom recently began employing VR headsets in its philosophy lectures to teach students to the dream argument of French philosopher Rene Descartes. One of the most famous philosophical writings ever written, Meditations on First Philosophy opens with the notion that dreams and waking life can have the same content. Students may see how immersive a simulation can be and experience firsthand the potential that life is nothing more than a simulation thanks to the VR headsets. “It’s fascinating to believe that we can test and understand more about these centuries-old theories with the most current technologies,” one student said. Philosophy has taken on a whole new meaning for me as a result of it!”
5. Architecture and design
Virtual reality technology is also being used in schools to ignite students’ creativity and keep them engaged, particularly in architecture and design. David Beach, assistant professor at Drury University Hammons School of Architecture, has been investigating methods to integrate VR technology in his area for the last three years and feels it opens up endless possibilities in architectural design. The Oculus Rift device allows architects to take computer-generated 3D models and insert viewers inside them to bring their concepts to life. Students at an Irish primary school have even used VR to create 3D reconstructions of historical Irish landmarks and then visit them virtually.
6. Special education
The Oculus Rift headgear has been used in the classroom at the Jackson School for Special Needs Students in Victoria, Australia. Mathieu Marunczyn, a technology, and special education instructor show how the Oculus Rift has sparked his students’ imaginations and provided them with visual insights they would not have had otherwise. For example, students can peer inside an Egyptian temple or observe a jet engine to obtain a better grasp of how everything fits together, making education much more hands-on.
7. Online education
Virtual reality technology has enormous promise in the distance learning business, as demonstrated by a recent study conducted by Penn State University researchers, who discovered that VR technology can increase learning results for online students. The Stanford School of Business already offers a certificate program that is totally delivered through VR, while students at the University of British Columbia Law School are enjoying virtual reality lectures via a VR social application called VR Chat. The application creates virtual online chat areas where students can project themselves and engage with instructors and other students using a VR headset.
8. Improved collaboration
Virtual reality technology has the potential to significantly improve communication between teachers and students in both distant learning and classroom-based instruction. According to research, virtual and augmented reality simulations boost student motivation while also improving teamwork and knowledge construction. In one study, teachers were able to design, implement, and use collaborative activities in the virtual world Second Life to familiarise exchange students with the Chinese language and culture before they traveled abroad. The pupils improved in crucial areas, such as less shame when exercising their language abilities and improved social interactions among students.
9. Game-based learning
Virtual reality will almost certainly transform the way games may be used to teach. Game-based learning is effective because it boosts engagement and motivation, and virtual reality can take this to the next level. Game-based learning is motivating in my experience because it is fun. The playing field has been leveled — a player’s gender, weight, or race do not have to be a barrier to acceptance by other players. Your acts will be used to judge you. In a virtual world, much can be performed that would not be possible in real life. It’s also memorable – the visual and tactile experiences in virtual worlds help us learn.
10. Virtual campus visits
Technology is altering the way students choose institutions, and many schools are now offering virtual reality campus tours as a method to engage with more applicants. These ‘campus tours’ allow students to experience what it is like to attend institutions in various towns and countries even if they are unable to visit in person. The virtual reality tours make use of images and videos of schools and their surroundings, allowing students to explore the campuses from all angles. The University of Michigan Football program, for example, now offers a virtual reality tour that allows students to experience what it’s like to play at the university’s stadium.