Today is more significant than ever, thanks to the fact that in recent decade’s technology has advanced by leaps and bounds, with hundreds of applications that help us to visualize environments in a much more realistic way. Virtual reality is an extremely versatile tool that opens up endless possibilities to enrich the learning process
The importance of virtual reality in Education is so real and tangible that today it is used in prestigious universities around the world such as Harvard and Stanford (two of the best universities worldwide) and Mexico. Let’s know some of its benefits.
Virtual reality allows us to transport ourselves almost immediately to any part of the globe. Just by putting on a VR visor, we can travel to places as diverse as the Grand Canyon, the Taj Mahal or the Prado Museum, go to other galaxies more massive and more distant than ours, explore our interior, know our biology or that of others species, reach the quantum realm and look closely at the tiny machinery of matter. Thanks to virtual reality, all these experiences are possible.
The Advantages of Virtual Reality For Learning
Table of Contents
A Realistic Environment (or Authentic Situations) – Virtual reality allows learners to be immersed in another universe without taking them out of the classroom.
Active Engagement During Learning – By participating in a VR simulation, the learner is completely immersed in the situation presented to them. He is less distracted by other things, and the playful dimension increases his interest.
Better Level of Retention – The acquisitions and skills developed by virtual reality, because they pass through all the senses, are more likely to be retained.
Learning at One’s Pace – Virtual reality makes it possible to repeat the same gesture as often as necessary for it to be mastered.
Better Performance – learners gain self-confidence that makes them more useful.
Easier access to this Equipment – we’re not quite there yet, but it’s coming! Equipment and production costs are democratizing, which will make access increasingly easy;
Increases and Aids Collaboration – the simulation makes it possible to resolve conflicts, to operate on patients, to defuse a bomb and this, with different levels of collaboration;
How Can Virtual Reality Help Students?
Virtual reality consists of an artificial 3D environment in 360 °, accessible through special glasses. In this way, the individual is transported to another reality in which he can see materialized, albeit virtually, things that he might not even be able to imagine, such as playing video games or also visiting a city he always dreamt of. It is precisely this realization that trumps the use of virtual reality in Education. With it, the student can better assimilate the content, leaving the theory and reaching an experience extremely close to the practice, the real world.
“What I hear, I forget. What I see, I remember. What I do, I learn”, said Confucius. The virtual reality environment allows the integration of all language skills.
It also provides a playful, light, fun and out of the traditional experience, forming a combination that favors learning and retaining information.
An immersion class in a virtual reality environment still allows for better interaction between students and also with the teacher, who, despite being the official guide of the experience, gives the student the role of the activity. The tasks also generate a greater identification of the student, who likes to see new technologies and devices of his universe applied in the school environment.
The use of virtual reality as a teaching tool falls into a category called “Edutainment”, which is the union of “Education” and “Entertainment”. In free translation: educational entertainment, which includes activities such as games, films and others used to teach.
The goal is to stimulate learning through the use of artifices that provide more dynamism and fun for classes, thereby enabling productive learning.
But, why use virtual reality?
1-Because it can be used by students of all ages;
2-It is still a new technology, so it arouses everyone’s interest;
3-It is a universe without limitations, which allows taking the student anywhere in this or even other worlds;
4-It reduces the chances of a student not participating effectively in the class and thus having his learning impaired;
5-Although, it seems a paradox, immersion in a virtual environment in the classroom also generates more significant interaction between students, which encourages participation and the improvement of social relationships.
Virtual X Real
Until recently, smartphones and tablets were banned in the school environment. However, Education needs to keep up with changing times and adapt.
Mobile devices have gained status as a learning tool, with content and activities planned for their use.
How Does Virtual Reality Function In Education?
- Pedagogical planning – The first step in using tools such as virtual reality glasses is to align them with the teaching project so that their use is not merely recreational. “The premise is not to use it for the consumption of content, but to create or share knowledge.
- Interdisciplinarity – Within virtual reality, it is possible to propose interdisciplinary activities, to explore the knowledge of geography, history, mathematics and science within the same space but this will depend on the challenges proposed by the teachers.
- Active methodology – Like games, project learning and design thinking, virtual reality is considered a dynamic teaching methodology. If used well, it can stimulate the protagonism and the critical formation of the student.
- Teacher training – Even if they encourage autonomy, technologies continue to demand the intermediation of the teacher. That is why teachers need to plan to make use of the resource. Research such as ICT Education show obstacles in this area.
- Power of experience – Although it allows you to go beyond physical limitations, virtual reality cannot override real experiences. Especially with small students, we have to pay attention not to anticipate virtually the real experiences that they have not yet had, important for their development.
- Impacts – Experts call attention to the lack of conclusive studies on the effects of virtual reality on Education. One of the aspects raised is the risk that the resource will lose its impact on student’s attention over time. “Overuse can become tedious or exhausting. This happens with any differentiated strategy, like games.
- Health – Most manufacturers of virtual reality glasses do not recommend prolonged immersion. The typical indication is 10 minutes of break after every 30 minutes of use. Students with heart problems, vision disorders or psychiatric disorders need to see a doctor first.
- Costs – Although there are low-cost glasses – you can buy a Google Cardboard for $10 on the internet – the need for a cell phone or other components makes it difficult for virtual reality to reach the public network. To this is added the lack of training policies in the area. Integrating virtual reality with classroom practice may not happen even though resources are available, as the offer of programs or courses is still very timid.
How Virtual Reality Helps Students?
1. Field Visits
For the founder of Oculus VR, classrooms are facing significant problems. “Children don’t learn the best by reading books,” said Palmer Luckey during a conference in Berlin, Germany.
“There is value in real-world experiences: we do things. That’s why we have field trips. The problem is that most people will never be able to have these experiences,” said the executive, referring to student trips to study something up close.
An example of the problem described by Palmer is the case of students who live in regions such as northeastern Brazil and who will probably never have the opportunity to make a trip to São Paulo to visit the Pinacoteca do Estado or the Portuguese Language Museum, as this it is not a cheap trip.
We can go further and imagine how many students have the opportunity to visit the Louvre in Paris. A device like the Oculus Rift could work as an alternative to travel, as it would allow a high level of immersion and user interaction with a “virtual Paris”.
Critics of the method can say that virtual experiences will never be the same as real ones, and they are right. However, Palmer argues that “what matters most is that everyone will be able to know the places”, even if in a virtual environment. With the aid of a headset, students could feel as if they were walking through the corridors of the most important museums in the world.
Google understood the potential of virtual reality in the classroom and has begun to give his contribution to the evolution of the segment. In the first half of 2015, the company announced the launch of the “Google Expeditions” project, which aims to provide virtual trips to several students from countries such as Brazil, the United States, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
The kits distributed in the chosen schools have smartphones from Asus, a tablet for teachers. This router does not require an internet connection and Google Cardboard, virtual reality glasses made of cardboard and rubber bands. With the novelty, teachers can guide students on virtual tours to places like the Planetary Society in California, the American Museum of Natural History in New York and the Palace of Versailles in France.
2. An Alternative To Books
For years, humanity has passed on its knowledge through textbooks, but now it can be done through virtual simulations. There are already virtual experiences that allow you to view the Solar System, walk with dinosaurs, dive with whales and even walk the streets of ancient Rome. Most of them were developed by the startup Immersive VR Education, a specialist in creating ways to use virtual reality in teaching.
The company’s most notable project is the so-called “Apollo 11”, which allows users to experience the entire landing on the Moon from the perspective of Neil Armstrong. An experience like this is much more powerful than reading a short paragraph about this historical event in a book.
It must be remembered that not all students have the same learning facilities, so the same book is unlikely to be suitable for teaching thousands of people – as is the case today. However, the opportunity to see something with your own eyes can facilitate the absorption of knowledge, be it a historical event or the process of cell division.
3. Simulation In Risky Situations
Virtual reality is a particularly useful alternative for risky professions, such as medicine, construction and military training. The headsets allow you to simulate any type of situation in a safe environment, including surgeries with three-dimensional images of the human body.
During Build 2015, Microsoft also presented its projects related to the subject. At the time, the company demonstrated the use of HoloLens, its augmented reality glasses, from a medical perspective, focused mainly on Education.
For this, the company took students on stage to show how they could use the VR headset and glasses to study anatomy. The technology allowed them to examine the various layers of the human body and zoom in on specific bones and organs. A partnership with universities and health institutes will make it possible to recreate three-dimensional models of the human body and, in the future, the novelty should be extended to areas such as architecture, engineering, among others.
The ability to introduce practical knowledge into the classroom, without putting students and others at risk, adds priceless value to the educational experience. The study of a project that involves the safety of a construction site, for example, can benefit from the creation of a virtual building environment where students need to find facilities that are not safe, something that would not be feasible without assistance.
4. More Significant Social Integration Of Students
The utilization of new innovations can help to solve some social problems found in classrooms. Shy students can be encouraged to get out of isolation with the help of more dynamic stimuli, as well as those who face difficulties with subjects like math, for example, can feel more confident when discovering new skills with technology.
Virtual reality technology can adapt to different needs and learning styles of each student. Also, the presence of more interactive methods of study can create great opportunities for group work.