How will Virtual Reality (VR) change education?
Once considered the domain of science fiction, Virtual Reality (VR) is now very much science fact, with devices widely available at cost-effective prices in many high street stores. Although it is still a fairly recent innovation, we are already seeing the positive impact that the development of VR has had on the commercial sector, with real estate agents saving time and effort, presenting properties virtually, and designers able to more effectively render and test their ideas before committing to expensive production, but what impact could VR have on the future of education?
- Engagement : Textbooks will always have their place, but you can’t beat experience for fostering true pupil engagement. While you may lack the funds to take every year nine history and geography class to visit the pyramids in person, with virtual reality children can plot the course of the Nile, explore the secrets of Tutankhamun’s tomb and discover what it may be like to live in the Egypt of today, or the Egypt of 2000 years ago.
- Enablement : Technology makes the world a smaller place. With VR children who live in remote places – the Highlands and Islands of Scotland – or need to take time away from school due to long-term illness, can fully participate in regular school lessons, banishing the distance and isolation they may otherwise feel. Additionally, guest teachers and professional experts can join in occasional classes, helping to enhance the learning experience.
- Experimentation : Without imagination there would be no innovation; children need the ability to experiment in order to see what they are fully capable of. However, experimentation often requires expensive equipment and materials that the average school budget cannot cover. Whether engineering, carpentry, science, technology or even home economics, VR gives pupils the opportunity to flex their imaginative muscles – without spending a virtual penny.
Technology has already changed so much that we do in schools; children use laptops instead of note books, stylus instead of pens; they can communicate with class rooms on the opposite side of the world and instantly collaborate on projects that would once have relied upon the frailties of the postal service; they can access more information at the touch of a few buttons than almost any traditional school library has ever contained. The future of technology is in our children’s hands; therefore it’s vitally important that we provide them with the tools they need to continue to change our world.