Does virtual reality have a place in the classroom?

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At some point during a child’s schooling, they will need additional assistance that static workbooks and textbooks alone cannot provide.

While computers and tablets have opened more opportunities for students to engage with their subject matter in the last decade, Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) enable them to better understand abstract concepts concretely – anytime and anywhere they like.

According to Gerrit Kruger, Managing Director of Sozo Labs – a creative software development company, “VR and AR are able to present complex information in an accessible way to students which is both fun and engaging. The technology allows students to interact with the content being taught in a virtual 3D environment in order to discover more about them.”

AR involves the mixing of digital information with the user's environment in real-time. Unlike VR, which creates a totally artificial environment experienced through a headset, AR uses the existing environment and overlays new information on top of it, which you can view through a smartphone, tablet or AR headset.

 “We are very excited about the potential these technologies hold, especially in the field of education. The challenge now is to get the technology into the hands of learners who need it most.”

The novelty and entertainment value of VR and AR can strategically be used to draw the attention of disinterested students, by bringing subjects to life that some students may usually find boring or irrelevant.

“Traditionally students disengage with subjects like Math because it is perceived as being too difficult, abstract or irrelevant, but using these immersive technologies, the hope is to better communicate difficult concepts and how it relates to the world around you. Student’s should be able to develop a deeper understanding of the subject matter by being able to play around and interact with real time simulations and digital content.”

“Biology students, for example, can learn about the human circulatory system by placing their programmed device (cell phone or tablet) over a textbook image and seeing an animation of how the heart pumps blood around the body. While Geography students might put on a headset and experience rock formations or weather patterns by being immersed in an environment where time can be controlled.”

In other areas of education, VR and AR have been used to recreate historical or natural sites, construct architectural models, and engage students in subjects related to literature, history and economics by offering a deeply immersive simulated experience.

Edgar Dale’s Cone of Experience reveals that the average person only remembers 20% of what they hear and 30% of what they see, but up to 90% of what they personally experience. As a result, VR and AR educational materials provide the scenario needed to bridge the attention gap, helping students to become more attentive during lessons.

Kruger concludes: “Curiosity translates into motivation, and that’s one of VR and AR’s superpowers. Leveraging these technologies to more effectively engage students is absolutely necessary, irrespective of economic and other short-term barriers. A good education is essential for the future of not only the individual but the economy and in the end, the future of our country.”

What do you think about introducing VR and AR to classrooms? Send your thoughts to chatback@parent24.com and they could be published.

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