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The VR & AR learning revolution

Besides greater engagement, retention and collaboration in classrooms, VR & AR enhance learning by simulating images and enabling 360 degree immersive journeys making comprehension much easier

In the new millennium, school and college students are becoming comfortable with new technologies such as the Internet, instructional videos, distance learning powered by video technology, multi-player video games, MMOG (multi-player online games), VR (virtual reality), AR (augmented reality) and 3D simulations. Simultaneously affordable hardware and software have made new technologies commercially feasible, leading to increased investment and laying the path for market expansion in coming years.

VR technology enables the creation of engaged learning environments making comprehension easier. For instance, it can make museums or marine life instantly accessible to students, eliminating the need to visit them. AR technology allows learners to communicate with computer-generated images within their own environments. In other words, while VR transports learners to computer generated environments, AR brings images from a computer generated environment to students. Besides greater engagement, retention and collaboration in classrooms, VR and AR enhance learning by simulating images, enabling 360-degree immersive journeys making comprehension much easier than in classrooms equipped with whiteboards and computer screens, providing students a truly enthralling experience. VR and AR offer the bonus of teletransporting teachers and instructors into one’s living room!

Social integration of learners. Several studies have proved that virtual reality technology helps tackle students’ social issues as they strive for acceptance by their peers. Students tends to come out of their shell and those lacking confidence in subjects such as mathematics and science, transform into self-assured technology experts. Other studies suggest that VR has positive outcomes for children from ethnic minorities, students with learning difficulties, different learning styles and those experiencing problems at home. Additionally, it provides opportunities for group work and peer teaching.

Learning by doing. It is widely accepted that children learn best experientially. In other words, they shouldn’t just read about history or archaeology, they should become historians and archaeologists to learn better. The well-known Danish virtual education expert Inge Knudsen has created a virtual building site highlighting mandatory safety precautions. Students can walk around and take pictures of unsafe places. Virtual immersive environments enable students to acquire on-site experiences and absorb better. 

In VR, the learner is immersed in a level playing field in which a player’s gender, weight or race is irrelevant. The virtual environment enables better understanding, retention and application of concepts as visual experiences enhance the ability to learn. 

New approach to rewards. As opposed to the traditional concept of rewards in education where success is neutral and failure is punished, in VR environments there are rewards for achievement, but failure is generally ignored. This engages the brain and learners try harder. The emotional reward of winning or succeeding is hugely stimulating. Moreover, in VR games the focus tends to be on cooperation, with team members with different skills and specialisations combining to produce winning outcomes. On the other hand in AR environments learners are immersed in a simulated image or model. The experience allows kids to play and interact with images, while they acquire knowledge through technology and develop their creativity.

For instance, if a student wants to learn about the respiratory system, she can view a 3D model in AR, click to view the separate parts of the respiratory system such as the lungs and how they behave in a typical respiratory cycle. Through AR usage, students can garner much more information than is accessible from books. They can rotate and view the entire working from all sides/aspects and in the process develop better visualisation that leads to faster understanding with enhanced levels of concept clarity. 

Better collaboration. A collaborative AR module promotes greater social interaction among users as also between multiple students, shared teacher-pupil access to a space populated by a virtual object, while remaining grounded in the real world. There’s no fear of blocked views as learners can feel their way in a completely safe environment. 

Improved computing & communication skills. In augmented reality classrooms, students visualise problems and immerse themselves in subjects and lessons, acquiring hands-on experiences and thereby greatly improving their computing and communication skills.

In the developed countries of the Western world, VR and AR pedagogies are transforming teaching and learning of subjects such as mathematics, science, social sciences, language, and even art and crafts. They enable greater retention by placing students on paths of discovery on which they learn to apply knowledge. In Indian education where rote learning and learning to exams continue to remain dominant pedagogies, accelerated introduction of VR and AR will rapidly improve learning outcomes and conceptual clarity. 

Yuvraj Krishan Sharma is a founder-director of Kompanions Pvt. Ltd, Gurgaon)

618 Views  | Posted on: 8 Feb,2017 Add Comment  Show Comments (0)