Do we really need Virtual Reality (VR) in education?

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Virtual Reality (VR) provides student with an immersive learning experience like no other tool. It allows them to virtually set foot into the world of learning and explore

By Beas Dev Ralhan

Since the past decade, education and technology have become intertwined. This synergy has yielded excellent results all around the world. Technology has transformed education like never before. Today, students are quite comfortable with using technology as a learning tool. We have witnessed the revolution of online education and digital classrooms. Virtual reality is next in line.

Virtual reality was born to transform the video gaming industry. It has now started doing the same in the  education sector. It provides student with an immersive learning experience like no other tool. It allows them to virtually set foot into the world of learning and explore. The student can experience a 360º video shot or a 3D environment and learn.

So, do we really need Virtual Reality (VR) in education?

The theme here is ‘learning through experience’. We are all aware of several studies that have been conducted over the years which prove that students learn best by doing. Virtual reality takes the concepts out of books and makes them come alive.

Though virtual reality is still in its infancy, it has had a huge impact on the education sector all around the world. inMediaStudio, a Spanish digital company has created the ‘Immersive Worlds’ project that implements immersive learning strategies. Here, students can engage in a virtual seabed environment to learn marine biology. It works like this — the teacher will transfer the concepts as scenarios onto students’ tablets from her own tablet. The students, using their virtual reality glasses, will experience these concepts on their tablets as if they are present in that environment.

There are no books or blackboards in such classrooms. Though the environment is virtual, the learning is real.

Smartphones have also given virtual reality a much–needed push. Google Cardboard, unveiled in 2014, was developed to bring the virtual reality technology to smartphones. It is equipped with optical lenses, magnets and clamps to hold a smartphone. It is lightweight, cheap to produce and is made of regular cardboard. Thanks to its low cost and the ever-increasing popularity of smartphones, virtual reality is starting to make huge strides in the education sector.

Other virtual and augmented reality devices like Google Glass and Oculus Rift have also been making a big splash in the education sector and have got people talking about their possibilities.

Virtual reality makes learning much more interactive. In fact, its three fundamental features are immersion, imagination and interaction. It helps large groups of students to immerse in learning, interact with each other in an imaginative three-dimensional environment. Students can help each other, and investigate and solve problems together. Virtual reality provides a movie-like environment in which each student is the protagonist of their own movie.

Thanks to virtual reality, students can now move across geography and time. They can virtually teleport themselves to explore the Himalayan peaks or the depths of the Indian ocean. They can travel back into the past and watch historical battles.

The possibilities are endless

We are on the verge of a new revolution. Soon enough, virtual reality is going to take the education sector by storm. And I am certain that in the coming years, virtual and augmented reality will present more and more groundbreaking ways to educate students.

The author is CEO & Co-founder of Next Education India


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