It's no secret that virtual reality has been sneaking its way into education in recent years. Virtual reality headsets gained popularity in the late 2010s among video game enthusiasts as a means to further immersing themselves in the gaming environment. Companies like Oculus were at the forefront of the VR movement with the Oculus Rift headset.
Today, some education technology enthusiasts have begun to integrate virtual reality into their teaching, using systems like Oculus Go, Google Cardboard, as well as more education-focused systems like ClassVR. But for those who haven't made the jump into 21st-century virtual reality technology, understanding its application in the classroom isn't always easy.
As we as a society move towards a more tech-focused learning environment, based around STEM competencies, introducing our students to new technology will only further help to foster their growth and creativity in the digital age. If you're someone who's never used virtual reality for teaching or doesn't understand its application in education, keep reading the article below. We've come up with 10 ways using virtual reality in the classroom will benefits students and their learning experience.
1. Students Gain Firsthand Experience
The biggest and most obvious reason for using virtual reality in the classroom is that students gain firsthand experience. Virtual reality headsets allow each student to be fully immersed in what they're learning. They can experience each lesson on their own. They're free to look around and focus on what they want to in the space. There's no straining to see the TV at the front of the classroom, or peering past your classmates to see a demonstration. Virtual reality is a solo experience, completely in control of the user.
2. It's an Experience They'll Remember
Adding onto the previous point, giving students the opportunity to learn firsthand creates an experience they'll actually remember. Instead of students trying to remember something they read in a textbook or heard their teacher talk about, they'll remember the time they visited the top of the Egyptian pyramids or saw a shark at the bottom of the ocean via virtual reality. Creating these one-of-a-kind experiences for students creates the ultimate engagement experience that they'll never forget.
3. Bring the Field Trip to the Classroom
Going on school field trips is undoubtedly a great experience for students. However, field trips have a lot of limitations. They require funding, parent volunteers, permission slips, etc. With all of those requirements, teachers are limited to only a few field trips a year, if that. But what if teachers could take their students on field trips every month, or even every week? With virtual reality, educators can bring the field trip right into the classroom, requiring no additional funding, volunteers or permission slips. In addition, virtual reality allows you to travel to locations where a field trip wouldn't even be possible.
4. Time Travel to Historic Places
With virtual reality, not only can you visit faraway wonders, but you can travel to historical places to learn about past events. What better way to learn about Ancient Rome than standing in an ancient amphitheater? Make history lessons memorable by virtually bringing students to the exact locations where they took place.
5. Low Barriers to Learning
Another great feature of virtual reality is the low barriers to learning. Virtual reality does not require students to be able to read at a certain level, speak a certain language or even have specific physical capabilities. Virtual reality can be experienced by students of all ages and capabilities. All students need to do is wear a headset and be able to see and engage with what's in front of them.
6. Go Where it's Not Humanly Possible
With today's technology and 360˚ cameras, we're now able to get a photo and video footage of locations that were previously not humanly possible to visit, especially for students. With virtual reality, students now have the opportunity to explore the bottom of the ocean or the top of a volcano.
7. Explore the Inside of the Human Body
Another place where it would be very difficult for students to explore is inside the human body. Most educators teaching about the human body would normally resort to physical models or diagrams. But what if students could virtually hold a human heart in their hands, or understand how blood cells flow through our veins? Many virtual reality systems available today are also capable of delivering augmented reality (AR) experiences as well as VR. With the help of a camera-equipped on the headset, augmented reality allows students to virtually experience all sorts of different objects as if they were right in front of them.
8. Learn About Animals Up Close
One curriculum topic that has the potential to be very exciting to children but can be particularity difficult to teach is animals. Pictures of animals are good but it's hard to fully understand an animal's behavior and habitat from a 2D image. With virtual reality students can get up close with real, moving animals, insects, amphibians and more, right in their own environment.
9. Minimize Learning Distractions
With almost every other traditional teaching method - pictures, videos, slides, readings, etc., there's the opportunity for distraction. Whether it's something outside, a cellphone, or people walking in the hallway, it becomes very easy for students' attention to be drawn away from the lesson. However, with a virtual reality headset on their face, distractions instantly become minimized. Students become completely focused on taking in the virtual world in front of them, they become immune to the distractions of the outside world.
10. Promote Engagement and Curiosity
The last, and possibly most significant benefit of introducing virtual reality in the classroom is the opportunity to promote engagement and curiosity among students. There are many different ways to spark a student's creativity and imagination but virtual reality is definitely one of the most powerful. With endless VR content available today and the ability to create your own video content, the possibilities for exploration are endless.
Not sure where to start? get started by exploring the immersive power of virtual reality with free online content on YouTube. Explore hundreds of 360˚ videos right on your phone or laptop. Experience the engaging power of VR and then contact InkSmith to talk about implementing VR headsets in your school or classroom!