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Virtual Reality in Education – Everything You Should Know About

It is becoming challenging to keep up with the rapidly changing technology with every passing day. Our educational standards are also evolving to keep up with that change in technology. Back in the day, the notion of advanced technology becoming a part of our education system seemed absurd to us. Now, however, virtual reality in education is quickly becoming a handy tool to improve on traditional methods of teaching by making use of custom-developed software.

In this article, we have attempted to discuss the possibilities of virtual reality in education and training. First, we will explore what virtual reality is. Then, we will look at the uses of virtual reality in education, along with VR apps. Finally, we will end the article by discussing how virtual reality in the classroom can play a pivotal role.

If you are a struggling teacher and are looking for new ways of teaching, this article is for you! Or, if you are generally interested in VR education, then keep on reading!

What is Virtual Reality?

Before exploring the uses of virtual reality in education, we need to know what virtual reality is.

Virtual reality is a 3D computer-generated simulation which is very close to the real-world experience. The main component of VR is its head-mounted display (HMD). Other components include hand controllers and headphones. Any person can immerse themselves into a virtual world, performing certain actions. It can all be done through the help of their five senses: touch, taste, hear, smell, and sight.

In other words, it is an illusion of reality through a software-based virtual world.

Source: Mount Royal University

Even though the focus of this article is VR, it is necessary to make this clear that virtual reality and augmented reality are not the same. AR enables you to blend computer-generated reality with your actual environment.

Now that the distinction between the two is clear let’s proceed further!

How is Virtual Reality used in Education?

The uses of virtual reality in education are many. We have listed down a few of them below:

o Special education: VR in education is beneficial for students with special needs. One can customise the content according to each student’s requirements and needs.

o Language training: Students can learn a new language through full immersion since learning requires both speaking and listening skills.

o Skills training: It is better to learn a new skill by practising in a real-life situation since it is more effective than textbook learning.  However, it is hard to control the real-life situation because anything could go wrong. Hence, for this purpose, VR works well for skills training in near-reality scenarios.

o Architecture and design studies: Students who want to test their designs on a larger scale can do so by converting their designs and plans into a VR model.

o Distance learning: Students who cannot physically attend the session can do so through VR lectures. This way, they will be a part of the lecture as well as be able to engage throughout.

o Virtual field trips/campus visits: Students can visit faraway and inaccessible places of their choice without spending actual money. They can even visit campuses of their dream colleges/universities.

o Game-based learning: Since games spark interest, motivation and engagement, they can be used not only for entertainment but also for learning.

In recent times, virtual reality is progressively becoming a part of our education system. Let’s have a look at how VR can be applied at different levels in the educational sector:

a student experiencing virtual forest
A student experiencing virtual forest

At Pre-School Level

In the age of tablets and smartphones, using Virtual reality in education at an early age could be a blessing. It not only develops speaking skills but also enhances real-life experiences. All of this results in opening up opportunities later in their lives. For kids of such a young age, VR can be incorporated through educational games and engaging activities.

At Elementary Level

When a child completes pre-school and starts their elementary level, incorporating virtual reality in education can help them improve their comprehension skills. It can do so by adding contextual information that will help them write better. Also, VR education greatly helps children retain information that they might otherwise struggle to comprehend. Hence, incorporating VR in daily lessons could prove to be an excellent idea.

At Secondary Level

At this stage, VR education can help students expand their knowledge about more complex concepts that cannot be explained otherwise. Furthermore, virtual reality can ensure high engagement levels among both students and teachers.

Moreover, if students have come up with their drawings and models, they can convert them into VR models using VR technology. This way, their presentations will be engaging and fun. Teachers can make sure that their lessons and experiments have a few VR lectures that will help students learn better.

At College/University Level

At the university level, students start thinking about their dream careers. Therefore, at this point in their lives, their skills are developed such that they can comprehend concepts and can write and communicate well. Here, virtual reality can help them stay ahead of the tech curve.

In the field of science and medicine, virtual reality in education and training can aid students in experiencing near-real-life cases in a virtual world where they can have a better understanding of the situations and find solutions much faster. In the field of arts and media, students can explore their creativity through virtual reality with immersive 360-degree photography and videography. Another fun aspect of VR is that the students can have virtual tours of their dream university campuses.

Benefits of Virtual Reality in Education That You Never Ever Imagined!

In this digital age, we can all agree with the fact that visuals play an essential role in our lives. Without using many words, we can use images and videos as a great source of learning for the students as well as the general audience.

Virtual reality can play a pivotal role in the educational sector. Traditional forms of teaching and learning might appear boring or might not be as effective in terms of how well important concepts can be explained to students. VR in the classroom can help impart concepts that may otherwise be difficult to visualise while making the process of studying fun and engaging.

If teachers and educational institutions invest in the right types of VR resources, this technology has the potential to go a long way in the betterment of educational activities.

Here are the top five benefits of incorporating virtual reality in education:

1. Visualisation

It has now been proven that visuals are a great way of learning. Incorporating virtual reality in education can help students learn better. Through VR based lectures, students can explore different realities where they can learn to tackle different situations in multiple ways, perhaps even with trial and error.

vr provides you better visualisation
VR provides you better visualisation

In doing so, they can encounter high-quality visuals which would surely have a more significant impact as compared to textbook learning. As a result, they will not easily forget what they have learned.

 2. Multi-Sensory Experience

Have you ever tried to take your students for a trip but you could not do so because of various reasons, such as high costs or safety concerns? Well, integrating VR in education can solve that problem for you. Through VR technology, you can take your students anywhere and everywhere from right inside the classroom. Your students can take tours of inaccessible locations as well as those which you cannot afford to visit in person.

3. Social Integration of Students

Students must interact with each other as it helps them gain confidence. Their performance in the classroom tends to get better when given a chance to socialise.

VR in education enhances the social integration of students who have unique learning needs. This way, the classroom environment will always remain positive as students will be able to help each other out in virtual scenarios. Also, educational VR will help students develop communication skills, active listening skills, empathy, flexibility, and other beneficial qualities.

4. Engagement With Concepts

If you are one of those teachers who find it quite hard to plan lessons that will not only be informative but engaging at the same time, then Virtual Reality for education could be the perfect solution for you.

vr enables you to engage with the concepts
VR enables you to engage with the concepts

Using VR will add value and creativity to your lessons. Also, you will be able to ensure that both you and your students interact, engage, and experience everything together within the virtual world that you create for them.

5. Zero Language Barriers

If you are teaching a diverse set of students where language becomes a barrier when it comes to interacting with each other, then VR for education is your go-to option to eliminate that hindrance. Multiple languages can be incorporated into VR software that will help your students engage with the content you put together for them. It will also be fairly easy for you to deliver your lessons.

Along with that, your students will have a better means of communication with their classmates who can’t speak English or vice versa using VR technology.

Virtual Reality Educational Software

Keeping in mind the various benefits of virtual reality in education, developers have come up with exciting methods of VR training. They have developed virtual reality education software that makes classroom learning more engaging than ever before.

Here is a list of some great pieces of software that combine virtual reality and education:

Number Hunt A fast-paced VR-based shooter game for teaching mathematics. It allows students to learn basic multiplication, addition, subtraction and division by aiming at the correct answers. It engages students right from the beginning. The multiplayer feature helps maintain healthy competition amongst students.
Nanome A virtual reality application where users can experiment, design and learn different atoms, molecules and proteins at the nanoscale in the field of science and technology.
HoloLab Champions An immersive virtual reality lab practice game which allows students to interact and compete in a safe virtual lab environment by conducting interesting science experiments.
Apollo 11 VR HD A historical program where students get to learn about one of the greatest achievements of NASA: the landing on the Moon in 1969. They can also take control of the command module, explore the Moon’s surface and deploy lunar experiments in a virtual environment.
The Kremer Collection An innovative virtual reality museum that portrays world-class old master paintings from the Dutch Golden Age. It is an application where students can learn about the history of the art pieces as well as see the artwork right in front of them.
Nefertari: Journey to Eternity An interactive virtual tour of the historical Queen Nefertari’s tomb in Egypt. Students can become part of the rich history, art, architecture and myths associated with the Queen.
Hold the World A virtual one-on-one audience with Sir David Attenborough, the famous historian, at London’s Natural History Museum.  Here, students can view all the rare artefacts which are otherwise closed to the public.
Anne Frank House VR Students can experience the world-famous “secret annexe” of Anne Frank House. A historical virtual tour of the annexe will teach students about Anne Frank and her family’s story during the Second World War.
Becoming Homeless A psychological take on society. This virtual reality app enables the student to understand the struggles of homeless people by experiencing it first-hand.
Google Tour Creator An app that allows students and teachers to create customised tours for themselves using imagery from their 360-degree photos or Google’s Street View.

Now that you have gone through these amazing educational VR apps, you can always incorporate them in your lesson plans so that your students, apart from having theoretical knowledge, can gain practical knowledge as well in a virtual world. These apps will not only keep them engaged but will also prove to be a good learning experience.

How Can VR Help Teachers?

If you are struggling with explaining complex theories and concepts in school/college/university, the chances are that your method of delivery needs to be improved. We understand that it can become somewhat difficult for teachers to deliver those complicated concepts and theories without having visual assistance.

teacher and her students taking a trip in a virtual forest
Teacher and her students taking a trip in a virtual forest

Hence, this is where virtual reality teaching could help you. If provided with the right training, it can change the entire landscape for instructors. By using virtual reality in education, you can plan your curriculum according to the specific needs of your students.

Here are seven ways virtual reality in education and training can benefit teaching:

  1. Do your students get distracted easily? Try combining virtual reality and education. It will help make your lectures engaging and interactive.
  2. Are you struggling to deliver a concept? Through VR, you can make students visualise a tough concept or theory much more quickly.
  3. Do you have trouble planning lessons? Try finding learning gaps that can be overcome through the use of virtual reality technology. It will save you a lot of time.
  4. Are you having trouble balancing a class? Try putting disruptive/struggling students in a virtual environment for more extended periods. This way, they will get to learn while you manage the rest of the class.
  5. Are you looking for ways to accommodate each student? Through VR education, you can customise your lessons according to each student’s needs.
  6. Do you wish to include those students who are not present in the class? With the help of VR, you can impart your knowledge and experience to those students who cannot physically attend your classes.
  7. Do you want to enhance your students’ skills in a better manner? Through VR, you can achieve exactly this. You can come up with content that will help your students develop or enhance their analytical, problem solving, and comprehension skills.

Overall, virtual reality for education is an innovative step towards a better, more inclusive educational system. If you, as a teacher, utilise this technology well, there is a high chance that others will also follow suit.

Final Thoughts

Virtual reality has the potential to revolutionise the way we teach our children. If used correctly, it can help students bring to life their most imaginative ideas and creations. However, it is your job as a teacher/professor to look out for opportunities to incorporate VR with traditional ways of teaching.

Now that we have thoroughly discussed the uses and benefits of virtual reality, you must have realised that it would not be a bad idea to invest in VR technology. It will be a one-time investment that will help you for a long time. Also, inevitably, half of your problems regarding lesson planning must be sorted now, looking at the amazing VR educational software we have mentioned in this article.

It is hard to not be in favour of virtual reality for education. However, we would love to know your thoughts on this topic. So leave us a comment below!

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Yasin Altaf

The author Yasin Altaf

Yasin Altaf is the Executive Director at GoodCore Software & Forbes Technology Council Member. Yasin’s experience in recruiting top technical talent and delivering technology solutions and B2B services spans over 20+ years. Throughout his career, he has helped businesses across industries overcome complex challenges through custom-built solutions, and enabled entrepreneurs and nascent startups to launch market-leading software products.

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