Why the Payback on VR in Education Is Substantial

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Why the Payback on Virtual Reality in Education Is Substantial

Why the Payback on Virtual Reality in Education Is Substantial

 

By Chris Daily

Experts predict the Virtual Reality industry to grow by almost 50% by the year 2028. 

This technology is taking over industries throughout the economy and around the globe. What once started as a technology strictly for gaming is finding real-life applications in fields like business and medicine.

There is even a useful place for Virtual Reality in education. Many educators and school administrators are exploring VR options as we move into a new decade.

If you and your administrative staff have been considering implementing Virtual Reality technology in your school, then this article is for you. We're going to go over various VR applications in education. Our discussion will touch on how Virtual Reality headsets and other education technology can reduce education costs, improve learning results, and raise matriculation rates.

By the end of this article, if any of your school administrators sat on the fence about using VR technology, they'll be rushing to implement this technology in your school.

But, there's a lot of information to cover to get there. So, let's get started!

Why Use Virtual Reality in Education?

For those who don't know, VR stands for Virtual Reality. And, unless you've been hiding under a rock, you've probably noticed VR's growth in popularity during recent years. It's becoming more and more popular for video games, in commercials, and we're even starting to hear of other applications for the technology.

Experts believe that education is one of the industries that is primed and ready to adopt the technology. Enthusiasts and workers within the industry can easily see where VR can improve the educational experience.

Imagine medical students learning about spinal surgery during a med school lecture. Traditionally, the students understanding of the subject matter would be confined to outdated illustrations they see in a textbook.

But, what if their surgery professor could share a 3D model of the brain, brain stem, and spinal cord with them as he lectured? How many more students do you think would be able to comprehend that material?

Scientists in the education space have done many studies on the learning process. Some of us are auditory learners and some of us are visual learners. Working VR technology into the education space is the perfect tool to combine both of those learning styles.

Just look at the example above. The surgery professor can speak to his students about the subject matter while showing them a visual representation of what they'll see on the operating table. What's more, the professor will be able to manipulate that 3D representation through a VR interface.

Essentially, he'll be able to "operate" in front of his students. He'll be able to gather audience insights as he "operates."

Increase Student Engagement

In addition to displaying technique, Virtual Reality will allow students to travel to places they would normally only read about in their textbook. The scope and range of field trips are extended through wearables like a Virtual Reality headset in the classroom.

Imagine a history teacher lecturing about the Great Wall of China. Normally, you would only be able to show your students photos of the Great Wall. Now, thanks to VR, your students can be transported there with a few clicks of a computer mouse.

Taking this interactive approach to learning makes any subject matter more fun and enjoyable for your students. As a result, students will be much more motivated to learn and school performance metrics will increase.

The First Uses of VR in Education

School administrators are working to come to an agreement on how to implement the first uses of VR in education. The first area of adoption appears to be in the physical education space.

This is an easy transition because VR is already being used in active gaming and e-sport applications. As with most new technologies, Virtual Reality devices were expensive and not accessible to most people at first.

Now, however, thanks to applications like Google Cardboard and YouTube 360, VR technology is becoming more attainable for the masses. This is great news for educators because students of all ages and grade levels can benefit from VR technology.

The benefits are more than just intellectual and education-based. Students will also begin to see improvements in their physical development with the help of VR technology. Skills like hand-eye coordination, balance, and agility can all be improved through physical VR gaming applications.

VR is also a good fit for physical education classes because its uses in the fitness industry are growing, as well. Platforms like Oculus offer a number of different fitness apps. Children can take boxing, perform weightlifting routines, and even learn sports like tennis with nothing but a VR headset.

VR Applications for Physical Education

Since physical education seems to be the "bridge" for VR to get into the education space, we thought we'd take a look at some of the most popular applications.

First, if you're thinking that VR technology is a long way off for your P.E. department, you might be in for a surprise. We mentioned Google Cardboard earlier. That's a platform that's making VR accessible for a lot of education programs.

P.E. teachers and other educators can get started with Google Cardboard for around $20. If you want more advanced equipment like VR headsets, that may cost more. But, accessing VR through Google Cardboard should be cheap enough for most schools.

Final Kick

Once you set your P.E. classes up on Google Cardboard, one of the popular applications used is called Final Kick. This is a VR application that allows your P.E. students to participate in soccer penalty kicks against some of the greatest players in the world.

Sure, playing soccer against your friends can be fun. But imagine taking a penalty kick against the goalie from your favorite soccer team! That's something your students will go home talking about.

Another application that P.E. classes are using is an app called CoSpaces. This one requires more technology and a bigger investment from your P.E. department.

CoSpaces

CoSpaces requires a wearable VR headset. Once students put on their headsets, the world around them becomes their playground. Students will be able to interact with their surroundings to go through a series of exercises. 

The way the app works is like a "stations" workout. As students look around the room they can interact with different exercises. One area of the room may be set up for "10 push-ups". Another area may be set up for "10 body curls" and so on and so forth. 

These exercises add up to a quick, 10-minute workout that is a simple, effective way to get your students blood flowing during gym class.

Benefits of VR in Education

The benefits of VR education are more than just physical activity. Students also get a more well-rounded educational experience.

One of the major benefits is that students can more easily overcome their fears. Students who have a fear of public speaking can perform speeches and presentations in front of a virtual audience. Research is continuing to advance facial recognition technologies and incorporate them in virtual reality environments. In addition to developing strong communication skills, students will be able to experience various situations learning to communicate effectively with audiences displaying non verbal communication cues. Rather than becoming nervous and getting rattled students can experiment with techniques and approaches repetitively if desired. Their non verbal communication skills will improve through experiences in a non-threatening environment.

Your students will also be able to overcome other phobias like their fear of heights.

VR technology also has implications for Special Ed learning. A study was done where Special Ed students on the autism spectrum were given one hour of VR training per week. During this training, the students were put into social situations with opportunities to improve their soft skills.

Some of the situations involved meeting a peer for the first time. Others involved confronting a bully or inviting someone to a party. These situations can be terrifying, but the use of VR allows peers to interact in a virtual world where there are no risks. Learners can expand essential skills that will be required when they are one of a 100 job seekers for a job.

The study built on past research in the autism field. The students interacted with virtual avatars as they went through each of the social situations utilizing their interpersonal skills. The results were a big step forward for special education and the autism community.

Educators involved in the study reported improvements in many social and soft skills. The students improved their ability to initiate conversations, improve communication skills, judge the quality of a friendship, and interpret emotion.

VR technology can also help with the administrative functions of the education industry. Students and parents can tour educational facilities virtually instead of having to make the trip in person. 

Educators can also create recruitment videos for their programs. Many universities and secondary education institutions do this as a means of orientation for their students.

Learning in the Future

The future of the education space is upon us. More and more schools are taking advantage of VR in education. Students don't have to rely on textbooks any longer. Instead, they can supplement their technical skills with the soft skills that are required in tomorrow's world.

They can get a more well-rounded education and reap the benefits of experiential learning. And what's even better is that they can do it all from the comfort of the classroom or their home.

For more information on what VR can do for you and your students, contact Agile Meridian today. Our goal is to help you provide the best education and experience for the next wave of minds.

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