This blog addresses an important issue: Do we really need Virtual Reality in education?
VR-based immersive and experiential learning has the potential to create a deeper level of engagement with target topics, in a distraction free environment. Such an environment creates chances for focus and attention on a topic or idea, which should positively affect retention rates of the subject matter. Of course, such retention rates cannot be legitimately expressed until longitudinal studies have been performed, but anecdotal data suggests there may be a link between VR and increased retention.
One of the possible advantages of VR is the opportunity to gain real-life experience in certain areas, which can be difficult to achieve, dangerous, or just plain expensive. VR can connect students with those experiences, from the most specialized skill-set training, such as welding practice, to performing simple lab experiments. With a look-see-do mode of learning, students are encouraged to choose, explore, manipulate, and comprehend subjects in a different way. Of course, this would only be in the case of active participation within the environment, and not as a passive observer.
It can be of great benefit to instructors to have a tool such as the VR at their disposal, but only if paired with the right content. Regardless of the medium, content is king, and always will be. Textbooks, videos and VR share one thing in common, that without proper, vetted content, they will undoubtedly end up collecting dust on a shelf.
Further to this would be if the VR was properly set up for academic use, funneling data from a student device, to a teacher. That would empower teachers to better understand a student’s connection with the material being taught, to identify possible gaps in knowledge and to attend to those issues in a timely manner. This would make the experience that much more relevant and that much more meaningful, for both students and teachers.
According to the Cone of Learning created by Edgar Dale (1969), after two weeks, the human brain tends to remember:
The beauty of VR in education is that a student can experience such things as going inside a plant or leaf experience what photosynthesis is all about, which is not possible in the real world. This creates the chance for a deeper connection with concepts. Such active learning methods, if deployed in classrooms, can create excitement, maintain enthusiasm, and pique the interest of students the world over.
There is a general misconception that VR might take away from the role of a teacher.Like good content, good teachers will always be in demand. Improving the resources available to teachers can only serve to empower, as instructors can now take students into worlds, environments and situations that we only dreamed and hoped would be possible. Welcome to tomorrow!
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