From traditional classroom education to military training, virtual reality has the potential to fundamentally change the way we learn and teach. For a few pioneering teachers, the revolution has already started. History teachers are using virtual reality to simulate walking through a World War 1 trench. Elementary educators can use VR apps like Jurassic VR to let students get an up-close look at dinosaurs. Even medical trainers are looking for VR options with Medical Realities, a company building the first interactive VR training method for surgeons.
The benefits of VR learning go far beyond the novelty of a new technology. Because students are actively engaged and have emotional reactions to what they’re learning, they are more likely to remember the material. A recent study by the University of Maryland found that the recall for VR training was 90.48 percent, compared to 78.57 percent with traditional computer-based training. Not to mention, hands-on experience helps students to better comprehend how the information can be applied in the real world.
As virtual reality continues to change the way we interact with the world, education will continue to evolve along with it. For educators, teachers and trainers who are ready to incorporate VR, here are the 7 ways you can expect virtual reality to make an impact.
- Makes learning hands-on. VR lets you experience the lesson firsthand. Because students are actively engaged with the material rather than passively listening or reading, they’re more likely to understand and be able to apply what they’ve learned. For instance, virtual science labs let students learn how things work based on practical experience with cutting-edge equipment.
- Provides better evaluations. Traditional education relies on testing and retention to determine whether or not a student is succeeding or failing. While information retention is important, it’s only one small indication of a student’s progress. Being able to evaluate students while they interact with the material and testing them on real-world application provides a more well-rounded view of how they are doing.
- Increases accessibility. Virtual reality can be a great equalizer in education. Because VR gives students access to top experts, instant access to every part of the globe, and training that previously relied on expensive equipment, access to a world-class education for all is becoming more of a reality.
- Boosts engagement. Because VR lets you experience something as if you’re actually there, you’re more likely to engage not only intellectually but emotionally. Emotion and memory are connected, which means that emotional engagement in learning increases students’ retention of the material. And while books have always let us experience new worlds or another person’s experience, VR takes this concept to a whole new level. Now, students can actually be inside the experience and see in 3D what they would have previously only seen in a photo or illustration. This experiential knowledge deepens understanding in a way that two-dimensional books and even computer screens cannot.
- Saves money. Of course, hands-on learning opportunities already exist outside VR. On-the-job training requires access to expensive, well-equipped labs or to residencies, internships or staff resources. While all of those learning experiences are important, VR can help offset some of the cost and accessibility issues that real-world training requires. Having the opportunity to practice skills before students are out in the real world means they’ll require less training when they start working. And, a VR lab would likely be less costly than a room full of expensive equipment.
- Encourages creativity. Because VR is interactive and dynamic, students can practice creative thinking and problem solving. There are plenty of VR tools out there that foster greater creativity, such as painting, film, and 3D-modeling applications.
- Enhances collaboration. Because students are all experiencing the same thing in a lesson, they can interact with it and each other in ways that aren’t possible in a lecture, computer, or textbook learning scenario. They can even help each other understand the concepts more deeply.
There’s no doubt that VR is poised to revolutionize education in exciting and groundbreaking ways. With VR technology, students and professionals alike will enjoy increased access, engagement, and understanding with their educational experiences.
Are you interested in exploring the world of virtual reality in your own classroom? Columbia College Chicago Online can help you get started. With Producing AR/VR Experiences, you’ll learn the landscape, terms and tools of immersive media. Developing AR/VR Apps will teach you the fundamentals of design approaches to both AR and VR. After taking the Sound Design and Music for Immersive Media course, you’ll be able to take on audio work across all styles of VR projects using your new skills in recording, sound design, and post-production.