There are many ways technology opens doors for us and all that we have to do is make the most out of these advancements and allow technology to work to our advantage. Take virtual reality in the classroom, for example. Although considered as an emerging technology, it already presented its impressive potential in providing students with opportunities to take roles, experience things and step into places with less cost and less risk.
Let us take a closer look at the extraordinary capabilities and the wonderful learning opportunities virtual environments provide.
Opportunity for Immersive Learning
Gone are the days when students only get to imagine things. With virtual reality today, they can now actually visualize in 3D form whatever it is that they imagine. Just think about how educators can now teach about the earth-sun relationship and make it engaging for students. With the opportunity to manipulate the virtual sun and earth, students can easily understand unseen elements like orientation, movement and relative positions.
Those studying anatomy can also benefit greatly from the immersive learning virtual reality applications provide. Now they can inspect and interact with lifelike anatomical structures in all angles, in every detail. No more 2D graphics that leave students simply imagining, and sometimes guessing or assuming.
Virtual reality in the classroom also provides opportunity to teach life lessons like empathy. The idiomatic expression “putting oneself in someone’s shoes” can now be literally done. VR allows people to mimic real-world conditions or simulate real-world situations to gain opportunity to see things in a different perspective, to understand the circumstance and the emotion of another person and to empathize with their point of view.
VR is also effective in giving learners actual hands-on experience minus the large costs, the time limit and the risks. With virtual role playing, one can practice over and over again, build the skill without distractions and judgment, and reinforce skills whenever necessary.
Help Students Focus
Once the VR headset is on, the scenario requires the user’s full attention. No side conversations or buzzing Smartphones can provide any distraction. This is especially beneficial for students who have additional needs. Persons with ADHD have demonstrated increased focus and better performance when learning through VR. This is because different stimuli posing as distractions are blocked and lessons became more enjoyable when presented in a VR environment.
As an engagement tool, it appealed most to younger students age 8 to 15. Virtual reality experiences lend themselves well to lessons that will stimulate students’ curiosity and motivate them to take in-depth activities for further learning. You see, VR not only enhances a student’s focus, it can also promote curiosity and wonder.
More Ways to Explore
With virtual reality in education, learning goes beyond the four corners of the classroom. Basically, it offers virtual field trips that are guaranteed to be unforgettable. Take your students places – in the streets of Paris, to Tokyo, Rome or any place in the world. Go back in time and visit the Pyramids of Giza, the Colosseum, the Ancient Greeks’ ruined buildings, or key sites from the Stone Age period. Just imagine the impression a young student gets from seeing the pyramids in a book versus standing by them and staring up in wonder. With a virtual field trip, you can take students to a rainforest, to the depths of the ocean; allow them to experience the Northern Lights and even World War II. Classroom VR offers a rich educational experience that’s sure to make a mark in students.
VR continues to fascinate us with its capabilities and possibilities; however, it has yet to be widely adopted especially in the education sector. Issues with cost, technological literacy, perceived “immaturity” of the technology, and lack of tools to integrate VR into the classroom are among the barriers to adopting this marvelous program.
We are positive, though, that the use of virtual reality will expand significantly among educators and learning institutions. But for now, we can only hope that soon a virtual reality lab in every school in the world will be a reality.