VR in Education
Imagine seeing dinosaurs right next you or an active volcano or walking amongst legendary kings and queens. Luckily, these days, we don't necessarily have to imagine.
Today, new edtech companies are using virtual reality to bring vivid experiences like these to the classroom, which advocates highlighting the technology's ability to inspire and grab the attention of young minds.
But with limited access to such content, how widespread could the technology become, and could it reshape how lessons are taught?
Jeremy Bailenson, a professor of communications at Stanford University and founding director of Stanford's Virtual Human Interaction Lab, has been studying VR since the late 1990s.
According to Jeremy Bailenson, a professor of communications at Stanford University and founding director of Stanford's Virtual Human Interaction Lab, VR should supplement classroom learning, not replace it. "It's about using VR to shake it up and frame the other work being done in the regular classroom," he said.
With many countries trying out the VR based content for strengthening the student’s understanding, let us look how does VR really help the kids. We have to first understand that kids of different age groups have to be shown particular kind of content to foster their understands. In other words, VR content has to be curated.
But a question arises if VR content is suitable for younger kids and yes, they are. Let us look at what VR exactly can offer with different age group of kids.
When it comes to pre-schoolers, the importance to build vocabulary and awareness of sentence structures are important and VR can help through real world experiences. Early years educators around the world offer enriching, stimulating provision to their students every day – and virtual reality gives them an additional immersive tool.
Taking pre-school children to visit a, zoo or such attractions is, of course, the perfect way to teach them about the world. But how can we extend that learning after the field trip is over and they begin to forget? VR allows children to step back inside that experience and re-live the excitement. It also offers great potential to extend their understanding. For example, now the kids can not only look at a rhino but also see how it will behave in its natural habitat.
In Elementary education, speaking skills and writing skills show a marked improvement in students who have had the opportunity to explore a virtual environment. The immersive, sensory nature of VR improves the quality of students’ language and the effect of the experience is particularly beneficial for those students who struggle to think of what to write. Creating a context for learning is crucial for deepening understanding. Learning about the phases of the moon from a textbook works just fine for some students – but the added contextual information they can access when they are placed on the surface of the moon, looking back at Earth, is invaluable.
Immersive personal experiences simply cannot be matched in terms of information retention. The ability to re-imagine the VR experience in which you learned a new concept is incredibly powerful and is of particular benefit to students who struggle to remain focussed in a classroom.
With kids growing up, the need and demand for a dynamic education system in this fast paced world is important. WIth a world where kids have been introduced with smartphones and different gadgets, it is difficult to hold their attention in a traditional setting. But with VR, we can not only help teach the students but also develop their deeper understanding of the world around them. As their understanding deepens, students will, in turn, have a better knowledge scope, this not only helps them in their careers later on but also help build empathy. Empathy is one of the less frequently considered benefits of VR in the classroom. The unparalleled opportunity it gives the students to truly inhabit the perspectives of others. Imagine the understanding and emotional experience a student could gain from understanding the effects of the Holocaust or the different cultures from around the world. This will not only, help make better human beings but also people with a larger emotional quotient.