Education is the primary driver of all thriving societies and we have always looked for quicker and more efficient ways to transfer knowledge. The way we teach our children has a significant impact on their overall quality of life, employability and relevance in society. That’s why introducing virtual and augmented reality (AR) in schools is the next natural next step in the evolution of education.
Since the first computers emerged in the forties, technology has been an integral part of our education process. Plus, the invention of audio devices heralded the use of new sound equipment as teaching aids, so did television, visual media and, of course, the internet
The current education system has a lot to gain from changing the way educational content is delivered. Virtual reality (VR) offers the opportunity to experience learning in ways that were previously considered impossible or, at the very least, inaccessible to most.
The limitless potential of VR means that educators can expand the way they teach in many ways. From design students using virtual models of real buildings to a geography teacher taking students on virtual tours around the world, the limits seem endless.
Here are five ways immersive VR and augmented reality in schools can transform the way we teach and learn.
1. Learning beyond the classroom
Virtual reality allows students to travel, explore and take field trips to places all over the world (and beyond) without leaving the classroom. There are a lot of ways that this can be useful. For one, teachers don’t have to worry about the constraints of time, location and permission slips.
VR products like Google’s Expeditions Kit brings the power of augmented reality to schools; allowing teachers to use immersive 360° scenes and 3D objects to bring abstract concepts to life. Like this classroom virtual field trip to the Great Barrier Reef.
About forty per cent of Australians have never travelled overseas. But with immersive VR and AR, you can provide kids with an opportunity that hasn’t been available to people before— experiencing faraway places as close to real life as possible. With such minimal setup, your class could be exploring Mars, the body’s nervous system, buildings in America, Ancient Greece or even key locations in the Salem witch trials. Which is a lot more cost effective than flying your class overseas!
Kids often want to experience things that they read about and VR allows them to explore different topics and see how things work all whilst engaging their minds in a remarkable way and unprecedented way.
2. Simplifying technical subjects
Teaching complicated disciplines like science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) comes with several challenges. Primarily, is how to make difficult, boring topics interactive enough with students, to making learning fun and exciting.
‘Student engagement and performance in STEM are declining, and we do not have the supply of qualified teachers we need to improve learning. The STEM curriculum is unbalanced and fragmented, leading to disinterest among students,’ according to the Challenges in STEM Learning in Australian Schools literacy and policy review.
VR opens a world of possibilities for students to interact with STEM subjects like never before. For instance, the STEM Innovation Lab presents real world problems using advanced reality technology, allowing students to design, create and innovate without limits.
VR is also helpful for people who prefer to learn visually, allowing students to actually see the things they’re learning about instead of reading about them or relying on images. VR can help students visualise complex mechanisms or functions, making them easier to comprehend.
3. Developing creativity
The best part of using VR technology and augmented reality in schools is that they are not only useful for presenting content but can also be used to create content. VR helps boost the creativity of students, allowing them to access powerful tools and creation kits.
This ability to interact with their imagination allows students to design complex three dimensional models and come up with innovative solutions for unique problems. The immersive nature of VR will enable students to explore almost limitlessly, making it the perfect catalyst for true learning.
And it goes without saying that a creative and explorative classroom is an effective one. The right amount of creativity inspires students to try new things, take initiative in their own education and is key in emotional development. Stimulating imagination and innovation is fundamental in cultural evolution, meaning we all benefit as a society and planet when creativity is nurtured and encouraged, particularly in our future generations
'As the world we live in is so unpredictable, the ability to learn and to adapt to change is imperative, alongside creativity, problem-solving, and communication skills,'
- Alain Dehaze
4. Presenting new ways of teaching
Some students are more likely to learn if they’re taught by a historical role model such as Socrates. Others may benefit significantly from having a scaled model of an engineer component pop up as the teacher talks about it.
These are a few ways VR can help teachers to transfer knowledge efficiently. Instead of being limited to learning in classrooms, immersive VR technology allows educators to present topics in new creative ways to maximise the learning process.
Students can access historical artefacts, videos and images with the aid of modern technology, which compounds what they have learnt from textbooks. Taking flat concepts from text to real life, immersive experiences that are bound to stay with them and really solidify learning even further.
This improves performance in tasks such as memorisation, sophisticated training and spatial understanding by allowing users to interact using natural techniques. It also enables students to gain valuable experience first hand, which is especially useful in situations where an interactive environment is needed.
5. Assisting in the professional development of teachers
VR presents many opportunities for educators to learn new concepts also and improve themselves too. Educational institutions can take advantage of VR to engage their teachers in an innovative learning journey that takes them to the next step in their teaching career.
Modern innovations require most teachers undertake some form of education technology professional development to keep on top of everchanging technology. This ensures that they can harness new powerful and innovative learning tools in their classrooms.
These are a few ways that modern VR technology is changing education and the way we teach. At TFE Solutions, we believe that virtual reality and augmented reality in schools is a powerful way to change the classroom environment for the better.
Get in touch to discover more about our education technology solutions today