VIRTUAL REALITY FOR EDUCATION
COVID-19 has affected every facet of life and drastically changed the way we do things. This is now a much more common phrase. With over a year of the pandemic, we are finally seeing it slowly coming under control, but the world is still afraid. As the saying goes, once bitten twice shy. But with the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines, we can expect a better outlook on matters in the near future. As for everything else, we have virtual reality and augmented reality to help keep us occupied. The education sector has taken a serious hit and educators are seriously concerned, but thanks to virtual reality for education, new solutions are offering hope and allowing students to return to some sort of normal curriculum.
HOW VIRTUAL REALITY IS CHANGING THINGS
Virtual reality was initially perceived as a fun and interactive toy when it was introduced to the market, but it didn’t take long for the world to realise that the unprecedented prospects it had to offer were too many to account for; especially in terms of learning experiences and creating educational content. Before we knew it, VR technology was used in professional applications such as training for military personnel, for athletes, medical applications such as training for doctors as well as treating patients suffering from PTSD, stress, anxiety, phobia, and much more due to its ability to create immersive experiences.
Even space agencies such as NASA are using VR technology and virtual labs to train astronauts in virtual space. Since it is so interactive and immersive, it is now used as a standard educational technology instead of a mere novelty. We all know that students are not attending normal classes anytime soon, especially in countries that are still struggling to fight off COVID-19, this is where virtual reality comes into play. Virtual reality in education is bound to emerge as a new technology with customized lesson plans of its own. Pretty soon, higher education will use VR in their regular classes outside of pandemic settings.
VIRTUAL REALITY VS AUGMENTED REALITY
Before we get to the applications of virtual reality for education, it is also worth mentioning here that some people confuse virtual reality with augmented reality. Virtual reality is a completely simulated experience that is either a representation of the real world or something totally imagined.
Whereas augmented reality is an interactive experience in a real-world environment. Everything exists in the real world but the world that appears around us is augmented perceptually by a computer to add visual, auditory, haptic, olfactory, and/or somatosensory elements. The most well-known augmented reality is a game like Pokemon Go. You see the real world, but there are added elements on top of that.
HOW VIRTUAL REALITY AND AUGMENTED REALITY ARE CHANGING EDUCATION
Virtual reality and augmented reality were both playing their part in changing the field of education long before the arrival of COVID-19, it’s just that their presence, value, and benefits have now been further emphasised. With students confined to their houses and schools closed, educators opted for the option of online education that turned out to be a good place to start. But as it soon turned out, neither was it interactive nor was it effective. Students found a lot of loopholes in the system and started to exploit them.
But virtual reality and augmented reality changed that by making the overall experience not only more interactive but delivering an enhanced reality-based experience. Interactive experiences have bridged the gap between educators and students, more importantly, between students and their curriculum by making the whole experience more fun.
The use of distance learning tools is allowing for virtual representation of teachers and students in the same room. This includes practical interactive studies, experimentation, and engagement. The limitations of online education via computers can easily be and are easily being overcome with the use of virtual reality and augmented reality tools.
THE AVAILABLE TOOLS AND OPTIONS
Since we are talking about VR technology and AR tools, it is also worth mentioning some of the most useful resources that can be used to enhance the learning experience of students. These include:
Head-Mounted Display or HMD
Samsung Gear VR
These headsets were initially designed for gaming, but they can also be worn by students for VR educational purposes. Additionally, there are newer, cheaper options becoming available like Google Cardboard. One of the best available resources that educators can employ are educational in nature but interactive like The VR Voyage’s tours and virtual experiences. It is one of the best available resources for virtual education, especially when it comes to taking a virtual tour with experts.
VIRTUAL FIELD TRIPS
The applications of VR have expanded as far as providing virtual field trips for students amidst global lockdowns. Virtual trips have recently formed into an entirely new market. Even before COVID, the vast majority of students were already unable to travel to many places in their curriculum for logistical or cost reasons. The arrival of virtual tours removes that barrier.
Now neither parents nor students have to spend extra money on a trip to Rome or Tokyo. Many museums, art galleries, and even national parks are now available for exploration online or on platforms like The VR Voyage. Students can go on virtual field trips that were considered out of reach due to COVID or any other reason.
Virtual field trips are twice as interactive, easier to manage, and convenient in comparison to real ones. The feeling of comfort of being present in the confines of your house is enough for many students to fully enjoy themselves and fully partake in the trip, making it an immersive experience. They are not only cheap alternatives; they are beneficial for creating memorable and interactive experiences for students which may not be possible for any number of reasons.
THE FUTURE OF VIRTUAL REALITY FOR EDUCATION
We believe the future of both, virtual reality as well as augmented reality for education is bright and even has room for further development and exploration. The VR Voyage is making it possible for students to explore their dream destinations. There is no limit to it, if students can dream it, platforms like The VR Voyage will make it happen. It is important to ensure that the appreciation and understanding of art, culture, and science, is instilled in the minds of youth by distilling it with VR-based interactive experiences. Immersive VR education is possible and it is becoming more and more accessible.