All about learning virtual reality

Virtual reality can make learning exciting as it transcends the logistical barriers of the real world

June 30, 2018 01:54 pm | Updated July 04, 2018 01:32 pm IST

Virtual lessons: Digitising education

Virtual lessons: Digitising education

We are in an era of digitisation. Technological advancements have an impact on almost every aspect of our lives on a daily basis, right from the way we communicate to how businesses are run.

The impact of digitisation is also visible in the field of education and has effected major changes in how education is being imparted and consumed. Rote learning and reliance on printed material or book-based learning is fast becoming a thing of the past. A new era requires a recalibration of the education curricula to cater to new and emerging needs. Virtual Reality or VR has managed to do just that.

Transcending barriers

Though the use of books and other traditional tools have not been completely replaced as yet, VR technology has delivered an effective means through which digitisation and audio-visual aids can be more effectively harnessed to address current requirements of education and required outcome.

VR uses software-generated digital environment that allows a seemingly realistic interaction with simulated contents through VR-enabled headsets and embedded sensors. This medium has emerged as the ultimate in delivering digital contents as it gives way to an immersive learning experience. A learner can explore an archaeological site or explore the human anatomy right from within the classroom itself.

The proliferation of smart phones and tablets capable of delivering VR contents and the reducing cost of VR headsets has made wide scale consumption of VR contents much more accessible to the masses. Though other digital formats such as PowerPoint, smart classrooms, audio/visual rooms, projectors etc., have been in use for quite some time now in education, none of them comes close to the immersive experience that VR delivers.

One of the highpoints associated with VR is that it transcends all logistical barriers of the real world. Students can walk the ocean floors or interact with the solar system from within the safety of their schools or colleges. In fact, VR can be effectively utilised in the training field as well, be it surgical training in medicine or understanding the working of complex machines. Training can be imparted in real world conditions without any associated risk through VR simulations.

As opposed to passive learning through observation or listening, the simulated hands-on approach in VR has proven to be more effective in knowledge retention and VR contents can be re-used over and over again to reinforce key learnings. Other important outcomes of VR in education are increase in student’s motivation, improved knowledge absorption and classroom practices, etc.

It is therefore not surprising that the adoption of VR in the field of education is soaring. The traditional text books and digital aids will continue to co-exist for the foreseeable future. The technology associated with virtual reality itself is evolving and promises an exciting future.

New technologies may emerge and new digital solutions may be invented but it is highly unlikely that any new intervention will have as much effect and supersede the role played by VR in revolutionising education.

The writer is MD, MBD Group.

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