We’ve seen many benefits to virtual reality (VR) technology already. It can help with our health and wellness, make us feel like we’re in space, and even help us socialize more easily when we’re introverted. Now, researchers are looking at how VR could also be a tool that helps specific types of learners in certain situations.
Vision is a primary mode of learning for many students. For instance, visual learners pick up information more easily when they can see it in front of them. And, if your brain prefers to get new information through any combination of the senses (hearing, touching, tasting), chances are you’ll be paying close attention while watching or listening to something.
Now, new research is showing how VR can help learners of all kinds. With a few minor tweaks to the learning environment, it’s possible to create an experience that’ll keep you on your toes and eager to absorb more information.
The Origin of VR in Education
The power of VR to help visual learners is a well-documented phenomenon. It can be seen as a simple explanation for the success of virtual tours, which only require an internet connection and a modern phone to create. Now, more complete VR experiences are available to the masses and they’re changing the way students learn.
The story of how VR got into schools is pretty similar to that of consumer entertainment headsets. Early adopters, like Google Cardboard, were used in various ways to teach concepts, but really took off when specific programs became available for students.
The first big player was the Oculus Rift. This headset provided students with a way to explore topics such as Ancient Rome through VR apps like Google Earth VR, History Class VR, and Rome Reborn. The Rift also showed educational apps that brought 3D content to life in a way that other platforms could not.
Once the Oculus Rift became available to consumers, other manufacturers began creating headsets that were mobile and more practical for teachers. It’s now possible to find VR headsets for as cheap as $15 online.
Now, the entire basis of the curriculum is expanding because of this growing technology. Educators are finding ways to use VR headsets for everything from math lessons to architectural design. And, it’s not just limited to curriculum. More and more teachers are using VR headsets in the classroom for actual field trips too!
5 Ways VR Is Used In Classrooms
How can VR be used in education? There are many uses for VR in education settings. Here are five ways VR can be used within classrooms and other educational settings:
#1 Understanding 3D Spaces
One of the most common uses for VR in education is to show students real-life spaces that they can’t usually visit. For instance, a teacher can place students inside the Grand Canyon or on the surface of Mars to give them an up-close view that they’d never be able to experience on their own.
#2 Learning Anatomy
Another example of how VR is used in education is for anatomy and medical training. Instead of trying to learn the human body from textbooks, students can explore the insides of a virtual human body.
Another way VR is improving education is by making it easier for students with disabilities to learn. Teachers and professors can use VR headsets to translate information into formats that make sense for their needs. For instance, a blind student could have a VR headset read aloud a text from a textbook.
#4 Enhancing Existing Curriculum
Through virtual tours or immersive experiences, there are many ways educators can enhance the existing curriculum. For instance, students who are studying Ancient Rome can take a field trip to the Colosseum without leaving the classroom!
#5 Preparing for The Future
Finally, VR is helping schools prepare students for jobs in industries that don’t even exist yet. Through apps like VirtualSpeech students can practice their public speaking skills or gain experience in customer service before ever setting foot into a workplace.
Advantages / Disadvantages of Utilizing VR
As with any technological advancement, there are advantages and disadvantages to VR. There will always be debates and differing opinions on technology like this. First, let’s look at the advantages.
There are many advantages to using VR technology within classrooms.
#1 Immersive Learning
VR headsets are designed to make learning more immersive by creating a 3D environment. This allows students to take advantage of their spatial reasoning skills, which will better prepare them for jobs.
#2 Improved Student Engagement
The virtual experiences provided with VR technology are so much more engaging than any materials can provide. That means students are more likely to pay attention and absorb the information they’re hearing or seeing.
#3 Better Learning Outcomes
Studies have shown that students who use VR headsets in the classroom perform better on tests than those who don’t. This is because spatial reasoning skills are improved, which directly impacts how well students do on tests.
Now, let’s look at the disadvantages that VR has within an educational setting.
One of the biggest disadvantages to using VR in the classroom is its high price. Many schools simply can’t afford to provide every student with their own headset, so they must share them between classrooms and students. This means that headsets could be passed around or broken easily.
#2 Still In Development
The technology behind VR headsets is still being developed, which means classrooms may see some kinks in their products. These types of issues can be difficult to solve since students are using the devices for learning.
#3 Privacy Issues
One of the biggest disadvantages to VR is that it can be distracting, which could lead to students missing out on important information. While it’s unlikely that every student will zone out during a lesson, there are still safety and privacy concerns about using them in school settings. Schools should consider how they’ll use headsets and how students will be monitored, as some may try to cheat or use the headsets for non-educational purposes.
For these reasons and more, schools are still divided on whether or not VR technology is right for them. However, it’s clear that this type of technology has a lot of potential, and its best uses extend beyond gaming. With the right education, there are limitless possibilities for how VR can improve learning.
Future VR Use Cases In Schools
VR technology is not new to the classroom, but there are still more possibilities hidden in its depths.
The best VR experiences use different senses that will leave students with a lasting impression of what they’ve learned. For example, an app like Sight Words VR brings words to life with interactive games and immersive scenarios while your vocabulary improves. An app like Memory VR allows students to solve problems with objects, which helps them improve their understanding of the material.
VR will soon allow for custom learning experiences where students can have fun while they learn. With these new possibilities in mind, there are many ways that VR could be used in schools in the future. VR can be used to help students build spatial reasoning skills. By creating a virtual world where they must navigate obstacles, movements, and relationships between objects will improve problem-solving skills.
Students could also learn foreign languages with VR headsets by immersing themselves in different situations, such as traveling by plane to a country where the language is spoken. The possibilities are endless and only limited by the imagination and creativity of those developing VR content for classrooms.
Virtual Reality in the classroom is still developing, but there are many possibilities for its future. Students who learn with VR see better learning outcomes and higher engagement than those without. While some schools may not be able to afford headsets yet, increased affordability will bring this technology to more classrooms soon. As time goes on, new uses cases for VR will emerge. Learning experiences may soon be created where students can learn while having fun, which will result in increased engagement and learning outcomes.
VR technology has the potential to change how children are taught, but it’s still unclear what its best uses are for classrooms right now. However, VR doesn’t have to replace traditional teaching methods; it can complement them in order to improve student learning outcomes.
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