Is Virtual Reality (VR) a Reality in the Classroom?

Emerging and exciting new technology is always a hot topic in school districts and during curriculum planning. With recent developments in the world of virtual reality, some experts are wondering if the tech will ever truly have a place in the classroom. Check out the article by Kai Liang below to learn more about how VR has been used in classrooms recently and where it’s headed in the future.

Google has recently announced it is scrapping its VR projects leaving educators questioning the place of this technology in the learning environment.

​Here, virtual reality (VR) expert and regular conference presenter around the world, Kai Liang unravels the findings of this news report and sheds light on the reality of virtual reality!

The education sector has often been the early adopter of new and emerging technologies; it is always actively searching for better educational resources to enhance the outcomes of education, and in recent years virtual reality technology has been used by an increasing number of schools across the world.

Let’s start by defining virtual reality (VR) which is an artificial environment that is created with software and presented to the user, typically through a VR headset; the user suspends belief and accepts it as a real environment. In the education sector popular VR headsets include those from ClassVR or RedBoxVR. VR is often confused with augmented reality (AR) which is the technology that adds a layer of computer created content on top of real-life images to enable user interaction, for example apps on touchscreen mobile devices.

Proponents of VR believe that it is an excellent educational tool, which helps to improve performance and conceptual understanding on a specific range of tasks. It is, of course, particularly beneficial in allowing students to play a more active role in learning by exploring and manipulating three-dimensional, interactive environments that create a feeling of ‘being there’; especially beneficial for concepts that can’t be ‘seen’. Taking chemistry as an example of one curriculum area, rather than trying to understand atoms and molecules from a textbook, using VR, students can ‘fly’ inside various molecules, making invisible atomic and molecular chemistry concepts visible, interactive, and experienced on a human scale.

As all teachers know, science education is all about ‘hands-on’ experiences and real-world exploration from which solid foundation for learning or pattern finding is achieved; VR experiences offer incredible value in bringing hard to reach areas of the curriculum to life.

VR in learning somewhat goes against the modern idealism of education; it’s anti-social, with students operating in isolation. However, there is no other more powerful way for students to ‘see’ and experience such concepts from such an incredibly ‘real’ perspective. And while there is no communication when they have the headsets on, once they take them off, you will have never seen such a level of passionate communication amongst even the quietest of students!

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