One of the most recent innovations in education is VR, but schools might have a hard time choosing the right VR platform for them. While statistics on VR use in schools and colleges have yet to be gathered, the steady growth of the market – with the VR market expected to grow to a $15.9 billion industry by 2019 – indicates that its use is only going to be more widespread.
As educators, you might have certain hesitations in jumping in the trend. This article will help you understand the importance of virtual reality in education, inform you about the different types of virtual reality technology, and help you arrive at a decision.
What uses does VR have in teaching?
Though there are some educators and school administrators who are hesitant and sceptical in believing the value of VR in teaching, they can take advantage of a rich and deep learning experience that effectively engages their students. It can also enable students to establish an authentic emotional connection with certain topics of interest or classroom lessons due to its immersive nature.
In fact, virtual reality has the capacity to improve the ways teachers teach and students learn in a variety of situations:
- It helps students understand the world better through virtual laboratory immersions
- It can promote cultural diversity by taking visual field trips all over the world
- It helps prepare students for real-life careers with virtual training simulations
What principles guide the application of VR in education?
Virtual reality has two main principles when being applied in education that can be very interesting for teachers and educators and can provide much-needed learning sustenance for students. Since virtual reality technology is all about replicating the experiences of the real world or creating scenarios in order to provide a controlled environment, virtual reality’s applications can be identified in two ways:
VR as an inhibitor of experience
Human experience has been a very powerful learning tool since time immemorial. In fact, the Kolb’s Experiential Learning Theory, one of the theories that explain experiential learning, is somehow attributed to Confucius.
“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.”
However, depending on the type of activity, going through certain experiences in real life can expose the human body to dangerous and life-threatening factors, impeding the learning process through experience. Virtual experiences created through virtual reality allows humans to experience scenarios without getting exposed to certain risks.
In addition, VR technology enables teachers to bring their pupils in virtual field trips any time they choose, allowing their students to enjoy and safely learn from experience.
VR as an engagement tool
Because virtual reality allows humans to have total control of their character within a simulated environment through VR headsets, it creates a very engaging set-up for its user. Being put in a virtual world free from the usual classroom distractions yield focus and engagement from the user.
In addition, because VR can be interactive in nature, students and teachers can use VR as a space to interact and come together wherever they are in the world. This allows them to collaborate and work together in the same virtual classroom, watch multimedia content such as videos and presentations together, and continue discussing the lessons without interruption.
Now that the uses and applications of virtual reality in school have already been established, you might already be thinking about getting a VR system for your school. Depending on your organisation’s capabilities and needs, there are a number of factors you should consider.
Which hardware is best for our school?
There are two main types of VR headsets primarily available in the market today. Smartphone-based headsets are probably the most common as this can easily be accessed by anyone who already owns a smartphone. These are also comparatively cost-effective since these are designed to use a smartphone’s existing features to create a virtual world. Smartphone-based VR headsets simply require an app to be installed and specially-designed headgear where the device can be mounted for it to work, making it more accessible for consumers.
On the other hand, stand-alone VR headsets, as its name suggests, is a device complete with a screen, gyroscope, dedicated controls, and earphones all in one gear. While standalone headsets have been known to be bulky, complicated, and hard to use, new iterations and models of standalone VR headsets are becoming more versatile, making its use more widespread. These types of VR headsets prove to be more economical, making it a preferred VR type for schools.
What considerations should be kept in mind when buying a VR system?
As with any system that will be used across an organisation, your choice should be in line with its intended use, your needs, and your budget. If you’re still hesitant in getting a VR system but want to give it a try, a smartphone-based VR headset will do just fine. With this, you will be able to take advantage of pre-made software, eliminating the need to pay developers to create specific apps for your exclusive use.
On the other hand, if you are looking for a wider VR integration in your curriculum across different expertise, it might be wiser for you to directly get in touch with a VR platform provider. Here at CFEE, our VR learning system was custom-built for our immersive subjects and is designed around Oculus Go for a livelier experience.
The tools used for teaching by an educational institution can say a lot about their way of teaching, so it’s important to put VR platforms under close scrutiny before implementing it for extensive use in your school.