Every time a new technology comes out, there’s a period when the uses for which it’s tested have almost no connection to a normal person’s everyday life. It’s the moment when that technology starts being applied to solve real problems that we can say it’s found its way into the mainstream.
VR is one of those technologies. It first started as a new and more immersive way to play videogames. But, even though VR’s most broadened use is in the entertainment sector, new areas are beginning to find use of its possibilities.
Health, war, marketing and real estate are some of them. But one of the uses that shows the most potential of them all is education, that subject that never goes out of the public agenda.
Once thought for elites, VR has developed in a way that lenses are getting more and more available for users of every kind. It’s true that it’s still a technology with a price that makes it prohibitive to most schools. While the cheaper headsets (say, the Google Cardbard) cost around $10, they still need powerful smartphones to make the experience work. Nonetheless, smartphones are in everybody’s pockets nowadays, and it shouldn’t be long before VR ready phones become mainstream.
Lower lense prices and smaller sizes made it easier to get VR to the classroom, in a world where image gets more important every day that passes. Why explain the Solar System only with words written on paper and 2D images, when we can travel through space only with a piece of cardboard and a smartphone?
From getting into a brain cell to time travelling and a tour under the sea, the limit of the things that can be taught through VR are subject to the app developer’s imaginations.Not a teacher
Technology has been said to replace almost everything in the world, when, in fact, it has enhanced what already exists. As such, VR in education is not here to replace the teacher, or even the classroom. If used well, VR can act the same way the textbook has worked until now.
The thing about VR is that it changes completely the way he current classroom works. VR lets the student get involved with the subject. The gamified experience makes it engaging, and the learning persists through first hand experience. Some of the apps that exist today include scientific subjects, like a tour through the insides of the human body or to the moment the Apollo 11 landed on the Moon, which also adds a layer of History. There’s also an app that lets the user get inside famous paintings, like Munch’s The Scream, quite a change from the average Art lesson. Field trips, medical procedures, simulations. The list goes on.
With a player like Google being one of the biggest contributors to this niche via Google Expeditions (that offers educational tours from the Great Wall of China to Mars), one can only wonder how all this can change a classroom model that hasn’t had a big change in the last hundred of years.
Visualizing makes it easier to remember, and being able to interact with concepts long thought to be abstract makes education through VR more compelling to every student with a lesson that’s memorable.
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