VR in the Classroom
I’ve discussed technology in various blogs in the past. It’s developing at breakneck speeds and fundamentally changing the way that humans interact with one another. From construction to healthcare and every industry in between. One industry that can stand to grow from technology is education. Again, I’ve highlighted this before in previous blogs, but I wanted to really hone in on one particular piece of technology that has the potential to really grow: virtual reality.
In short, virtual reality (also known as VR) is a broad term used for any technology that creates a virtual environment. VR has blown up in recent years, with its roots closely associated with video games. In fact, the video game industry has seen a bit of a VR resurgence in recent years. Because of this resurgence, new and fascinating advances in VR technology have developed. Like most tech, VR can be applied to multiple sectors, including education. And VR shows great promise within the classroom walls.
According to an article from Thenextweb.com, a survey revealed that half of the country’s education professionals would enjoy utilizing a virtual environment to facilitate new and exciting educational endeavors. Needless to say, there is certainly interest in the technology. But is it a viable avenue for education? Well, if a recent experiment conducted by researchers is anything to go by, then, yes, it very well may be.
In the study, researchers took two separate groups of children and placed them in a virtual palace. One group went through the palace using a standard computer and mouse, while the other group was able to experience the palace in VR. The task was simple: walk through the palace once and study the various photos of celebrities hanging on the walls, and then walk through a second time and remember where each celebrity photo was placed. The VR group did far better than the computer and mouse group. This experiment is a great example of just how powerful VR is.
That being said, it is possible that the students using VR were experiencing what is known as the novelty effect. In short, the brand new VR technology was so impressive that the students paid closer attention than their computer and mouse counterparts. While this can’t necessarily be proven as the case for every student who took part in the experiment, it is a possibility. But that doesn’t mean that VR will only be effective for as long as it is new.
Virtual reality has a variety of implementations and practical uses for education. Students with disabilities who cannot physically visit their classroom can potentially attend class in a virtual setting in order to avoid feeling left out; history classes can take virtual trips to ancient locations and visit famous historical figures; field trips can now be taken to literally any place imaginable. This innovative blend of technology and education is different than before. Students can now truly engage with their subjects in ways never thought imaginable.
Will VR become a standard in classrooms, or is it simply the flavor of the month? Only time will tell, but regardless, I’m excited to see what the future holds.