Virtual Reality in Education is an Evolutionary Response

“The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn and change.”- Carl Rogers

As one of the most influential psychologists of the second half of the 20th century, Rogers was well aware of the correlation between change and personal growth. To enhance quality of life, man has been creating inventions since the beginning of time. What started off with fire and the wheel has proceeded into creating an entire new world coded in computer software programs called virtual reality (VR).

Though the usage of VR in education is still in its infancy, schools should not dismiss the idea, thinking it merely a temporary trend. Keep in mind that generations of students have been using computers since their early age and many children today experience education for the first time through tablet and smartphone applications. Inevitably, young people do not merely perceive the world through eyes, but adjust their view with the help of screens and cameras.

The VR Market is Already Entering into the Education Field

That VR will increase in popularity in the field of education can be seen from current VR market trends. The biggest app market players input huge investments to establish and maintain their own VR sector. Ever since Facebook bought Oculus Rift, there have been speculations of Facebook launching a VR classroom app. By using inexpensive Google Cardboard VR headset, students and teachers can go on a VR educational adventure offered on the Google Expeditions app. This summer, one of the biggest education publishers, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, teamed up with Google Expeditions and launched a new series of educational VR tours complete with lesson plans, teacher guides and student activities.

Obstacles to the Implementation of VR in the Classroom

“Unlike a lot of schools outside of wealthier areas, we don’t have a deficit mindset. That means I don’t have to look at my lesson plans and figure out how to do without, or find a substitute for equipment. Our kids aren’t just getting a competitive learning experience; they’re getting an incomparable one.” – J. Budisantoso, computer science teacher at WLA, on the implementation of VR at their school

The high cost of VR software and hardware is an off-putting factor when schools are deciding whether to implement VR. Google Cardboards may not be expensive, but a Google Expedition kit for thirty students comes at a price of $ 9,999. For most schools it remains a risky decision whether to invest large sums of money on an emerging teaching method.

In order to achieve the successful implementation of VR in education, it is necessary that students and teachers are technologically literate. Rand Corporation conducted research on the relationship between children and technology literacy, finding that: “Technology literacy opens the door to many of life's opportunities”. Technology literacy is often dependent on the financial standing of a person and, as the level of technology literacy of students and teachers varies even within the same school, it is a question of whether students would actually benefit from VR use in the classroom.

How does it work?

If you watch the video how teachers are incorporating virtual reality in the classroom will bring a smile to your face. It is exciting to think that instead of talking about Egyptians building the pyramids, a teacher could walk through the construction sites with the students and search for lost treasures. Similarly one can discover the secrets of Stonehenge or walk through a submarine.

Teachers have commented that the use of VR in the classroom helps students to better comprehend study content and that it broadens students’ horizons. There should be no fear in thinking that one day teachers will be replaced by virtual educators. It is better to understand the many benefits VR teaching methods can bring to schools.

Have you thought about or do you already have experience using VR in school? Share your suggestions and tips on Edookit’s Facebook community.