Authored by Sushma Sharma, Director of Career Success Strategy, LaunchMyCareer
The face of education has completely transformed over the centuries. From the time when education was disseminated in gurukuls to the modern era where learners can deep dive into the mechanism of an automobile or an aircraft to learn about their complex structure through virtual reality (VR) headsets – technology is making waves in educational pedagogy! Virtual reality, a popular invention in the world of technology, is creating a buzz in the education world. It offers learners a fascinating experience – to learn complicated subject matters by entering a reality-imitating virtual world, where they can move, talk, make decisions, and interact with the world around them.
Virtual reality is a computer-generated environment powered through headsets that takes the learner into the immediate environment of the concept to be understood, enabling them to experience it from close quarters. The learner becomes a part of the environment making the entire experience immersive and realistic. No wonder VR-based immersive learning has taken the world of education by storm, and for good reason.
What makes virtual reality a great tool for education?
Education in India has been largely theoretical. Gradually, over the years, educational institutions have begun to incorporate practical learning through lab experiments, excursions, group activities, and projects. It was observed that regular exposure to practical learning not only made it exciting but also enhanced retention and recall. The introduction of virtual reality in education has taken learning to an entirely new dimension. Immersive learning through VR has proved to be an effective tool to expand knowledge as it delivers digitally created information and situations that mirror real-life experiences which are mostly inaccessible to learners in traditional school settings. VR is an exciting new reality that piques learner interest and gives wings to their imagination. Being able to navigate a live environment and experience everything firsthand makes the user experience enriching and fascinating. Imagine being able to understand complex mathematical concepts in 3D and their applications in real life while sitting in the confines of a classroom. It promises to be a game-changer for thousands of learners who dread mathematics.
VR enhances student engagement for all kinds of learners
The most important challenge educators and trainers have faced over the years is keeping learners engaged. Learning is not a unidimensional concept and neither do all learners learn in the same manner. Some learn visually, some focus on auditory senses, some are kinesthetic learners while some others learn linguistically. Virtual reality encapsulates a 360-degree format of learning that perfectly fits the bill for enhanced student engagement by keeping learners glued to their headsets as they explore new concepts. Sensory experiences enhance interactive learning and make it interesting for learners. It heightens all the senses, thus making learning an all-encompassing experience.
Promotes a distraction-free environment conducive to learning
The interesting thing about VR is that one has to wear a headset to be able to immerse in it. The entire experience engulfs you in a way that doesn’t let you think of anything else. Learners become a part of the 3D world that they are watching, making the experience live and real. All kinds of distractions, be it those coming from peers, sounds from outside the classroom, or mischief mongers are relegated to the background. Even the most hyperactive learners are automatically focused as it leaves no space for the mind to wander. With VR, teachers can officially bid adieu to have to force learners to concentrate on a lesson.
VR brings concepts to life
VR has the power to bring the most mundane of concepts to life. Physics, biology, math, or English – every subject can be explained better with VR. The magic of VR is that it can transport learners from their classrooms to the pyramids of Egypt, allow them to observe the reaction of mixing chemicals without actually touching any of that, and interact with the virtual world as an active participant. The three-dimensional reality creates a life-like virtual environment that enables students to delve deeper into the concept, thereby enhancing experiential learning, retention, and recall. Learning in VR is known to mark a visible improvement in student learning outcomes.
The emotional experience enhances learning
The thrill of learning in a virtual environment is unparalleled to none other. Watching classroom concepts in a simulated reality makes the entire process of learning exhilarating for learners. Being able to see, hear, sense, and experience theoretical concepts in three-dimensional reality with the added advantage of becoming a part of the learning experience makes it an emotional encounter. Forging an emotional connection facilitates learning and goes a long way to strengthening the teacher-student bond, besides improving memory and retention.
Develops collaboration and fosters social skills
As VR involves interactive collaboration on a particular subject domain, it fosters a sense of collaboration in the day-to-day social exchanges among learners. They experience higher levels of confidence and improved ability to apply those lessons in real-life situations, hence boosting overall social skills. As VR-based learning provides a safe environment for learners, they feel more encouraged to interact with someone in real life as well, for instance, by inviting others to sit together, sharing lunch with others, and taking rejections in a better way. VR-induced learning can do wonders to develop empathy in students.
VR facilitates teacher training and lesson prep
Not only has VR transformed learning, but it has also transformed the methodologies of teaching. For educators, teaching in a live classroom-simulated environment makes things a lot easier as it provides the ideal setting for them to practice, halt, and refine their method in real-time. A virtual reality classroom is a powerful tool for teachers to prepare lessons beforehand. Virtual reality environments are customized to scenarios that mimic challenging circumstances for teachers and can help them do better at their work. The tool has great applications in benchmarking and measuring instructor performance as well.
VR immersive learning isn’t a fad phenomenon with short-lived popularity, it’s an eternal wonder for the education sector for decades to come. As virtual reality forges ahead making learning more impactful and paving the way for seamless integration into the educational curriculum, it is gradually equipping learners with better life skills thereby preparing them for the future world of work.