Virtual reality has finally arrived and is sure to reshape the educational landscape even more than it already has. It’s going to enter the classroom and probably bring the classroom to faraway places where teaching would otherwise not have gotten.
But if you want to make the best of virtual reality then you have to understand its real world applications. What is possible and what isn’t? For that reason, today we’re going to explore exactly those possibilities. In that way, you’ll be well prepared for whatever virtual reality will bring to education, the classroom and everything in between.
Because it is going to change the world.
It allows you to bring your classroom anywhere and anytime
The biggest problem with a lot of material that we try to teach our youth is that it is rather abstract. They are dry fact that is hard to relate to. And sure, television to an extent has changed that. But nothing can beat virtual reality for the ability to bring the student into the actual experience. It doesn’t matter if it’s the battle of Waterloo, the fall of the Berlin wall or the signing of the declaration of independence. The very act of being there will make it possible for them to relate on a far more personal level.
It will allow you to bring anybody into your classroom
And that’s just one direction. It can just as easily let you bring anybody into your classroom. That’s incredible, as it means that students can attend any class from anywhere, which will finally make it possible for the digital classroom to equal the brick and mortar variety.
Of course, it isn’t just students that you can bring into the classroom. It will be equally easy to bring other people in as well. It doesn’t matter if they’re experts, eye witnesses or people who have a story to tell. All can be brought in for an actual experience which will be just that bit better than the current skype experience.
In fact, as computer power continues to increase it will even become possible to bring in virtual characters. Wouldn’t it be great for students to be able to talk to a life-sized President Washington and ask him about what it was like to live through the civil war?
And it doesn’t just have to be historical characters. It can just as easily be somebody who offers college writing help or career advice.
3D models might as well be the real thing
It doesn’t even have to be people that are brought into the classroom either. It is just as easy to bring objects into the classroom. This can be hugely beneficial for a lot of different fields.
- Engineering will become a different experience as people can build things with their hands without physically building them. From there they can expose their creation to a huge number of stressors and variables, without actually destroying them as they can always turn back the clock a few minutes.
- Medicine in general and medical students will also benefit, as it will become possible to try medical procedures in virtual environments. This will let people try their hands at procedures without killing anybody (or even cutting anybody). What’s more, they can repeat the same procedure until they get it right (with the computer telling them when they do).
- Architecture has already benefited a great deal from computers in general. That relationship will only become stronger as virtual reality becomes common place as people can build things and then actually walk around them and see how they react to time or circumstances. This will allow students to get a far more tactile experience of what they’re doing and thereby get a much better understanding thereof.
It isn’t just the full on virtual reality which will be of incredible use in the years to come. Augmented reality will also make a resurgence. The truth is, so far it hasn’t yet lived up to its full potential. But the ability for virtual objects to exist in the regular world will be able to change things dramatically.
For one thing, classes will become far more interactive as students can take real-world objects, like a math problem written on the board – and manipulate them virtually. From there they will then be able to share their answers once they’ve got them – moving seamlessly between a personal VR and a public VR.
Once students become used to that and it becomes a standard practice, that will affect how they will actually see the world.
Even if we ignore that, the act of seeing something that they’ve built virtually actually exist in the world around them, will make the experience far more tangible and meaningful. Imagine a science fair in which a great deal of the projects are actually virtual but can be interacted with by both students and teachers? That would allow for some far more interesting projects than a volcano that foams, don’t you think?
It’s always the young who pick up technology the quickest. For that reason, if teachers will let them, VR in the classroom will be an incredible experience for children to learn both about the subject that they’re being touched as well as the technology itself.
And if we can give them that leg up, then chances are that they will use that technology in ways that we can’t even begin to imagine. Just like the smartphone changed the way we interact and social networks changed how we interact, so VR will no doubt change the human experience yet again. We can’t yet know how that is going to happen, exactly, but we can make a few predictions like we did right here.
And then when we read them back a few years from now and the world has been changed far more than we ever expected, we can see how antiquated our ideas were back then. And there’s nothing wrong with that.