Today, we live in a world where technology is constantly changing and society is unpredictable. All we can say for sure is that technology will keep advancing, and as it does so our reliance on it will also grow with it.
We have more kids doing school from home than ever before now, and it’s only thanks to modern hardware and computers that we’re even able to do so. But what about the future? While some people want things to go back to how they used to be, others see this for the opportunity that it is to improve education on a more fundamental level.
With technology like VR on the rise, many opportunities could be made easily available that wouldn’t have been in the past, but what is VR and what could it bring?
What is VR?
VR simply stands for Virtual Reality and is something we can see and interact with through VR devices and headsets such as the Oculus Rift, for example. Although it’s primarily used for gaming, there are many other applications such as visiting areas we can’t reach through Google Earth.
When using one of these virtual reality devices or headsets, it’s as though we’re somewhere else entirely. It is the most immersive way of interacting with technology in this current age.
Currently, virtual reality is still being improved constantly and is not perfect, but with the way technology is rapidly evolving and improving it won’t be long until virtual reality likely becomes a new standard.
You may be thinking to yourself “but if it’s used for gaming, that sounds like the most opposite think I’d want to have to distract from learning”, but why do the two have to be separated? According to Talant LMS, “Over 60% of learners would be motivated by leaderboards and increased competition among students. 89% say that a point system would increase their engagement with an eLearning application”.
It doesn’t take much to see that it’s not impossible to mix learning and games. It’s commonly seen in nature with animals playing as their way of learning to survive for later, and it happens all the time around us without us realizing it.
It could be an improvement in critical thinking through board games like Chess, learning about World War II through a video game, or maybe even becoming better at reading by playing a game with enough words to be comparable to a book. Books themselves were considered as bad for you at one time as movies and games have been considered in recent times.
Clearly it’s possible, so why keep education so separate when you could have kids actually wanting to learn and enjoying it? Instead of fearing failure and memorizing responses, we should be trying to get kids excited about learning and wanting to succeed, especially when there’s no reason not to!
Hands-on With Lower Costs
Although virtual reality may come at a relatively high cost depending on what devices are used, it can also save a large amount of money as well while providing infinite possibilities. Imagine not only being able to go on a field trip to somewhere that would be impossible to reach otherwise, it could be used to reach places that no longer exist or maybe even places that never existed!
Imagine the engagement that can be reached by having kids travel to the moon, explore ancient pyramids or even exploring non-euclidean space. Of course, you could always have more simple experiments and demonstrations with physics done as well which could end up costing a high price either way in the real world.
In the world of virtual reality though, these field trips and experiments would generally cost nothing extra aside from possibly buying a program for them. Along with that, there would be no risk of harm, injury or getting too lost.
Change is Necessary
In this day and age not only is the way we go about education outdated, it’s downright irresponsible based on what’s going on in the world right now. We can’t expect sudden leaps to be made from the classroom to VR of course, but we should be further along and closer to it than we are now.
We should be looking for new ways to further education and ways to make the education system more effective rather than looking for a way to get things back to how they were before. The pandemic we’re in has shown us not only how poorly prepared we were from our own ignorance toward technology, but how ignored and overlooked the minority are when it comes to kids who can’t attend school in person.
“If we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob students of tomorrow”
– John Dewey (1917)
This quote is from over 100 years ago, but what has changed beyond the surface since then? Far too little if you ask me. In recent years, expert opinions have also shifted from seeing the bright but uneducated as leading to an unsustainable future, to seeing those taught by methods of the past as leading to an unsustainable future.
In the words of Donna Loraine, president of Carrington College, “Education is about making successful learning connections with students in a changing world. . . virtual alternatives will add educational options to traditional brick and mortar learning”.
We have to start somewhere though, and there truly is no better time than the present. Right now as we deal with this pandemic, we have people relying on Zoom conferences and Kahoot but we could do better if we could actually prepare for the future.
In conclusion, although it may not be there just yet, right now is a good time to start looking into how we can improve education with virtual reality. It has shown much potential and promise, along with gamification, to be capable of revolutionizing education.