While virtual reality has not been around long enough for truly definitive studies to have been performed in the world of education, the trend and technology continues to move forward.
Teachers are always looking for new ways to keep students engaged. Screens are a regular part of almost every child’s life. As children’s exposure to technology grows, educators need to find ways to meet them in their world and find ways to teach in a new space.
Virtual reality is becoming that new space to teach in. It can provide experiences for children that no other platform can offer.
It may seem like VR is still a long ways away from saturating the market place. After all, only 21% of households have a Virtual Reality headset. It stands to reason that the percentage is much lower for classrooms.
However, VR continues to fascinate us with its possibility, and it’s especially popular among kids, 70% of whom (ages 8 to 15) express interest in it. A study by CommonSense Media shows that parents are bought into the idea of VR in classrooms. Sixty-two percent of parents overall believe that VR will provide educational experiences for their children, while that number jumps up to 84% if their children use VR now.
So, let’s take a look at some best practices as we know them now when implementing VR in a classroom as well as which applications are becoming the most popular.
Make the experience a social one. Even if the classroom only has 1 headset, have your IT personnel set up the system so the whole class can see on a screen what the student is experiencing!
Incorporate the physical world when you can! Some say that Augmented Reality is the true gem in the education space. If each student can wear a set of glasses that allows them to all see the same thing, lessons can really come to life. Think about a virtual water molecule floating over the teacher’s desk, or the outline of a country floating in the front of the class.
Use VR or AR experiences to enhance your lessons, not replace them. Teaching is still about connecting with students in a way that makes them excited about learning your subject matter. Technology is constantly adding new ways to do that, but nothing can replace a great teacher. VR should be just another arrow in the quiver of a good teacher, not a replacement of one.
Latest VR Experiences in the Market
Titans of Space – The true vastness of space is a difficult concept for children to comprehend. Titans of space is a fantastic, interactive way to teach students about the size, scale and make up of our Solar System. The program is customizable to focus on one of a few of the planets you are teaching or the entire system itself. The planets are scaled down to a millionth of their original size to help students understand the distances between the planets and the massive size of our sun!
Discovery VR – The Discovery channel has been a constant source of educational content for over 30 years. Their foray into VR should come as no surprise. Discover VR offers a number of different programs for educators. Most of them are focused on taking users on journey’s through places they would never have means of traveling to themselves. Whether it’s remote islands or shipwrecks in shark infested waters, students will marvel at the sites they are presented.
Google Expeditions – Google Expeditions, like Discovery VR, is all about taking students to new and distant places. The offer over a Google did something a little different and worked with educators in order to curate content specifically for the classroom.
Brian Thomas is a contributor to Enlightened Digital, long-distance cyclist, and lifelong advocate for women in business from Philadelphia. Tech and business are his lifeblood, but he’s also a fanatic of brewpubs and just about every sports team in Philadelphia.
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