How will virtual reality change education?

Once upon a time, Virtual Reality used to be a wealthy gamers’ niche. But with the advent of affordable consumer-grade VR headsets, the technology has seeped into the mass market. Apart from gaming, there are dozens of ways in which people can use VR to improve their living.

One key area that can be immensely benefited from VR is Education.

Medical training colleges have been using VR tools since last few years to help their students get better exposure to patient care, spend more time in surgery training and developing other skills necessary in their field.

Advanced engineering courses also offer VR aided labs to help students better visualise concepts, build tools virtually before building them in real life and in several other areas.

But it is not just the technical education that can enjoy the VR technology. Even school students can get a lot of benefit from introducing VR as a tool for improving the quality of engagement with the curriculum.

Imagine this, instead of reading about Genghis Khan in a history textbook, how would you feel about an immersive tour of his army? Which one would get the most attention from the students?

 It will force even hyperactive kids to pay attention to the lesson as he watches history being recreated in front of his eyes.

Experimentation has already started to find the best way to use VR tools in high school education. In a recently concluded pilot project, students took part more readily in VR assisted training than their regular mode. Even after factoring in for the novelty of the concept, the interest was still higher than the normal levels.

Virtual reality also makes it possible to use game-based learning among students.

Many educational institutions are also using VR to take their classes on a virtual trip using Google Expeditions. Teaching about the weather can be a lot more interesting when you can walk your class through different seasons. A class in biology would be more exciting when you see the animals in their natural habitat.

 Apart from the learning experience, VR makes it easy for social interaction among students. Online platforms like Mission V help students with similar interest come together to create their own learning experience. Students can build 3D models, interact with ‘teaching avatars’ and enjoy an immersive learning experience which makes retention a lot easier than mugging from the textbooks.

 Another great possibility in education for VR is in its potential role in the remote education. The Stanford School of Business and the University of British Columbia are just a few examples of higher education institutions that offer VR assisted training for people. Australia, which has a lot of remote students is also running a pilot program to bring all the virtual students together in a classroom. The early results show students pay more attention to the subjects when VR is used instead of the other modes of communication.

 Things are just getting started for VR. With the availability of cheaper VR standalone headsets, the technology is becoming more accessible to common people, and it is only a matter of time the creativity of human nature finds other exciting ways to use the innovation.

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