“32% of educators are using technology to bring experts or experiences into the classroom virtually.”
The State of Technology in Education: 2016
Bringing lessons to life with Virtual Reality (VR) technology is increasingly popular, as teachers can take students on immersive, virtual journeys, and better meet the needs of all pupils; whatever their learning styles. Its no wonder that VR is making a big noise in education.
The benefits of using VR in the classroom
From taking a walk through the worlds galleries and museums to launching students into space, or even a class trip to see the dinosaurs, its both educational and fun to teach with VR. It also has the ability to capture the attention of the digital generation across all disciplines.
Make learning an active experience
Studies show that students don’t learn best from reading a book or looking at a chalkboard. Instead, the ideal way to teach and learn is through interaction and application. School trips are one way to give pupils more hands-on experiences, and with VR, teachers can provide exposure to this type of active learning each and every day. Right from the comfort of the classroom.
Remove the distractions
With VR, pupils are fully immersed in a synthetic environment. It frees them from school noises and, as all teachers know, with no distractions, a pupils capability to learn is increased.
In today’s world of limited attention spans, VR offers immediate engagement. Instead of listening to boring lectures, VR excites students; and being excited about the technology used, leads to deeper levels of engagement with the lessons themselves. Whats more, with VR, pupils have access to almost limitless environments full of new things to learn. Of course, it’s not just about peeking into these imaginative worlds – content and supporting materials are also used to help teachers bring relevancy to VR learning.
Help students to learn complex subjects
According to scientific research, VR improves spatial understanding and memorisation. By allowing students to experience learning from a first person perspective – seeing everything that is happening around them – visual learning can help to increase a students overall comprehension of more complex subjects, theories, and languages.
Prepare pupils for employment
Neo-millennials are far more interested in technology than any other generation. But, rather than being something to get frustrated about, with predictions that many traditional jobs will be lost due to the rise of the robots it’s vital that teachers do everything they can to nurture this passion and prepare pupils for the world of work.
Boost learning and retention
VR doesn’t just help keep students engaged; it also ensures that they retain information with greater ease. With evidence showing that people remember and learn better from what they do, rather than what they read, virtual spaces feel like real locations, so it makes sense that pupils will make real memories.
Move learning beyond the classroom
Virtual reality removes the barriers of the traditional classroom. Instead, learning can be accessed from anywhere. Likewise, VR can be used to bring external specialists into schools; adding extra value and relevance to lessons.
How teachers are already using Virtual Reality in the classroom
“Only 2% of teachers are using virtual reality content, but 85% agree that it would have a positive effect on students”
Here are just some examples of how you can use VR in your lessons:
Go on a virtual field trip. With the Google Expeditions app and a cardboard viewer, pupils can get to anywhere in the world in a matter of minutes. History teachers can explore Ancient Greece with their class, Science teachers can take students to Mars, and English teachers can show pupils Roald Dahl’s writing hut.
Bring science to life. Use the VR Roller Coaster app to illustrate potential and kinetic energy, as well as the forces involved in roller coasters. Or, take students on a microscopic mission inside the human brain using the InCell or InMind apps. You could also use Expeditions to take a journey into the human heart to learn more about the system that keeps us alive.
Recreate real-life structures. Take a real or virtual trip to a historic site (e.g. local ruins) and then use tech such as Oculus Rift headsets or the Sketchfab app to get pupils to create a virtual model/3D rendering of what they have just seen.
Create fictional spaces. Let students recreate settings of a novel they are reading, or design a fictional city with tools such as CoSpaces and then explore it in VR.
Solve mysteries. Immerse students in unsolved puzzles, such as the death of King Richard III and inspire them to address some of the greatest mysteries of our time.
Become the story. Use the Google Cardboard medium to create role-playing games where students put themselves in the middle of a 3D tale. There are a range of apps available to help you to do this.
How are you using Virtual Reality in your classroom? Tell us on Twitter!
“We feel certain that this technology has a distinct and unique part to play for learners of the future. Sometimes a little bit of awe and wonder is what we need to make lessons memorable.”
Graeme Lawrie is Director of Innovation and Outreach at Sevenoaks School.
Creating enriched experiences, there is no doubt that VR has a positive educational value. But, as with most tech, when it comes to bringing VR into the classroom, the trick is to get the balance right. VR cannot replace real-life educators, but when teachers merge VR systems with traditional teaching methods, this hybrid approach has the potential to transform the world of education as we know it.