We live in a world that is continuously transforming as tech­nological advancements integrate into the seams of society. Will the education system also conform to these changes, and push past the boundaries of traditional classroom learning?

The traditional education system, still widely used today, involves consuming large amounts of factual information in short timeframes, mainly through reading. While this teach­ing style was practical in a pre-digital era, students today have mixed attitudes towards “hitting the books.” It is im­perative that the education system evolves to foster contem­porary students’ engagement with technological gadgets and enhance the learning experience with tools that take advan­tage of their aptitudes for technology.

Virtual Reality (VR) is one of these technological tools that can augment learning. It relies on the use of high-perfor­mance computers with high-fidelity graphical capabilities to immerse individuals in a realistic, three-dimensional virtual world. So, what’s the appeal?


Travel Without Boundaries

VR can help students traverse new worlds. From An­cient Rome to distant planets, the possibilities are end­less. Such a tool would greatly improve the quality of distance learning. Students can learn about a subject by living it, which can involve the mind in ways that make learning more engaging, memorable, and motivating than ever before.

Learn Hands-on

VR can allow for deeper engagement in science and engineering. Students can gain practical experience by conducting virtual experiments, building robots, and visualizing otherwise abstract concepts. Medical stu­dents could practice surgical procedures without need­ing cadavers or sacrificing animals.

Personalized learning

With VR, students can escape standard group learning and learn in a way that is most comfortable for them. In the traditional classroom, a single teacher cannot feasibly meet the needs of each student under their charge, due to limited supplementary learning material in the classroom, a finite amount of time for teaching to occur, and insufficient opportunities for one-on-one student-teacher interactions. The VR experience can be tailored to the individual, as each student can journey through different guided learning environments at their own pace and have access to virtually unlimited re­sources to meet their learning objectives. In this scenar­io, the educator would evolve from being a teacher who delivers content to a facilitator who guides students in self-learning. An added bonus to this is that VR also makes learning more accessible to students with dis­abilities and eliminates language barriers through fo­cusing more on spatial learning.

Foster creativity

VR can provide all of the necessary “virtual tools” to pursue artistic endeavors, and allow for immersion into different cultures and time periods for inspiration. VR also provides a platform for international collabora­tions, where distance is not a barrier for sharing ideas.


     Although VR has existed for decades, it was only with the recent transition into the digital era that we begin to appre­ciate VR as a means to revolutionize the education system. A Beijing study showed that VR-based teaching produced a significant boost in test scores among high school students, and those who scored below average with traditional learn­ing benefitted the most. VR therefore shows immense prom­ise as an educational tool.

     Before its widespread implementation, however, addition­al considerations are necessary. VR equipment is currently expensive and inaccessible to low-socioeconomic status ar­eas. Many VR features also require internet usage, so cyber security is needed. Safeguards against health and safety risks, such as emotional damage, are essential. Lastly, while VR can enhance learning, it cannot replace the importance of real-life interactions.


References

  1. Babich, N. (2019). How VR in education will change how we learn and teach. Retrieved from XD Ideas: Https://xd. Adobe. Com/ideas/principles/emerging-Technology/virtual-Reality-Will-Change-Learn-Teach.
  2. Beldarrain, Y. (2006). Distance Education Trends: Integrating new technologies to foster student interaction and collaboration. In Distance Education (Vol. 27, Issue 2, pp. 139–153). https://doi.org/10.1080/01587910600789498
  3. Hamilton, D., McKechnie, J., Edgerton, E., & Wilson, C. (2021). Immersive virtual reality as a pedagogical tool in education: a systematic literature review of quantitative learning outcomes and experimental design. Journal of Computers in Education, 8(1), 1–32.
  4. Jones, V., Jo, J., & Martin, P. (2007). Future Schools and How Technology can be used to support Millennial and Generation-Z Students. ICUT 2007 (Proc. B), 1st Int. Conf. Ubiquitous Information Technology, 886–891.
  5. Pantelidis, V. S. (2010). Reasons to Use Virtual Reality in Education and Training Courses and a Model to Determine When to Use Virtual Reality. Themes in Science and Technology Education, 2(1-2), 59–70.
  6. Radianti, J., Majchrzak, T. A., Fromm, J., & Wohlgenannt, I. (2020). A systematic review of immersive virtual reality applications for higher education: Design elements, lessons learned, and research agenda. Computers & Education, 147, 103778.
  7. Vive, H. T. C. (2016, December 8). New research suggests VR offers exciting new ways to unlock student potential. PR Newswire. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/new-research-suggests-vr-offers-exciting-new-ways-to-unlock-student-potential-300375212.html
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