The Emerging Use of Virtual Reality in our Classrooms Offers Exciting Possibilities
Students often learn about other parts of the world by reading or maybe watching a video. Imagination serves to fill any of the gaps of the unseen and untouched. Now, there is a new type of technology available that can bring that experience to a whole new level: Virtual Reality. Teaching, in augmented terms, will significantly alter learning as it is currently delivered. Teachers are gradually beginning to embrace this technology.
Samsung took a nationwide survey of 1,000 K-12 teachers. Around 60 percent of respondents said they would be interested in utilizing virtual reality as part of the classroom experience. Currently, around 2 percent of teachers have already used the tool. In addition, 93 percent of both teachers and students were intrigued at the proposition of using virtual reality headsets as part of their education. It is clear that this technology can deliver a dramatic enhancement to many learning environments. Let’s take a closer look at virtual reality as a concept in the classroom.
Create an active experience
Imagine teaching about trekking in Antartica. The majority of the world’s population have never been nor will ever travel to this region. This means that students will probably not even have family and friends who could share their experiences. You could show a video or an animation, but that still creates a passive experience of the watcher visualizing the actor. With a virtual reality headset, the students could feel a more active participation in the trek, from the comfort of their classroom chairs. They have a sense of depth perception and all of their surroundings to even the most minute of details.
Whether the student is reading, writing or watching–distractions can come in all directions. You can watch a video on a tablet, but there are still other items within your line of sight. The same is true of reading. Using a virtual reality headset completely covers your frame of view so that you have no distractions.
You need a good phone
Even with the best headset available on the market today, you still need a phone that has a multitude of capabilities and options. It has to have a strong Internet connection and large amounts of data to pair successfully with the headset. With good quality head sets poised to become increasingly affordable, the experience can be unparalleled.
Setting up your first VR lesson
One way to start is buy utilizing Google Cardboard. All you need is a smartphone, a VR app and the Google Cardboard-certified viewer. You place the smartphone in the viewer that includes two lenses to focus on the smartphone screen. What makes Google Cardboard a popular introduction to virtual reality in the classroom is the budget-friendly prices starting at $15 per viewer. If you buy two, you get $5 off, for a total of $25. Granted, Google Cardboard is a low-end introduction, but the possibilities quickly come to life!
As you move your head up and down, or turn your body around, you get a 360° view of the image as if you were standing right where the picture was taken. If you wanted to get more immersive, and teach your students about Ancient Greece, then you could download the Discovery VR app. This site offers videos and tours compatible with the Google Cardboard headset. That way, your students can experience these tours as if they were there.
This lets you take your students on virtual trips such as the surface of Mars, Machu Picchu and even Antartica. Google introduced the Expeditions Pioneer Program last May, and over 11 million students from over 11 countries have taken an Expedition to over 200 places from Buckingham Palace to the Great Barrier Reef. You can either learn how to create a kit or buy one here. In addition, Google offers training for incorporating lessons into your classroom.
Think of all the hassles involved with travel–the risks, the long lines, potential for delays, the costs and more. When teaching students about art, why not take them to the Louvre? Of course, that would be an expensive trip for a classroom of 20 or more. Not to mention, not everyone would be able to go. Then, there are the logistics of chaperoning for that many. With virtual reality, students can be at the Louvre in an instant. Then, they can stare into a van Gogh or perhaps the Mona Lisa. Yet, this not just limited to art museums. They could experience a concert hall and more.
Memorizing charts and studying graphs and illustrations isn’t the most fun for many students. They want to see, touch and feel. Why else do most students get excited when going on field trips? When it comes to science, there is so much more to it than dissections or mixing chemicals.
In a virtual reality classroom, the dynamics are suddenly altered. The study of anatomy can go further than animals. Weather patterns can be viewed up close from within the safety of the classroom. This may be the only means that can bring students directly into the eye of the storm without the threat of any physical harm. There are a wide variety of scientific discoveries that can now be accessible.
Match every learning style
Within the world of education it is well understood that students can vary in their learning style. In larger classrooms, it can prove challenging to try to accommodate every single student. Yet, with virtual reality, the visual aspect can be modified to suit every type of learning style. Just a few seconds of input and any and every student can be immersed in a world that corresponds to what they need to learn and how they need to learn it.
Virtual and augmented reality is just starting to catch fire in the global marketplace. It’s exciting to envision the benefits it can deliver in the classroom setting.