Virtual reality is poised to radically change the way we learn – but what exactly does that look like? We’ve been following the state of VR in the classroom for several years now, even offering some of our own predictions along the way. Want a glimpse at what the technology-empowered classrooms of the future might look like? Discover how these VR for learning early adopters are using the technology to compliment their existing curriculum, leading the way for other institutions to follow:
Fans of VR for learning are likely already familiar with the Google Expeditions program, which enables educators to lead students on in-class virtual field trips using low-cost cardboard VR headsets. Teachers can tailor and optimize each exploration for their curriculum, choosing from a growing menu of over 200 Google-curated expeditions including a trip to the International Space Station, a behind-the-scenes look at a TV studio, a deep dive to explore the bottom of the ocean, and more. The relatively low cost of cardboard VR equipment makes Google Expeditions an appealing option for larger classrooms and school districts – Google has even begun experimenting with new AR features, opening up a whole new world of immersive learning possibilities for any student with access to a smartphone. You can learn more about the Google Expeditions program by visiting its official website.
In an effort to showcase its power as a teaching tool, AMD brought VR to a school in Toronto, Canada to let students and teachers experiment with the technology. Students worked collaboratively to draw 3D graphs in virtual reality using Google’s Tilt Brush, a popular tool that allows users to paint in 3D space using VR. Educator Kelvin Lam notes that drawing 3D structures in VR can prove to be quite helpful for students trying to understand how a particular mathematical system functions, as opposed to trying to represent the same information in a more traditional, 2D manner. Overall, school staff members seemed pleased with the outcomes of the in-class VR trials on student engagement – after all, when was the last time you saw so many students smiling in the middle of math class?
In the above TED Talk, Labster founder and CTO Michael Bodekaer discusses his company’s efforts to revolutionize STEM education by developing a fully simulated virtual reality laboratory capable of simulating both simple and complex experiments. Bodekaer positions Labster as a potential cost saving opportunity for colleges and universities, as the simulations allow students to practice experiments virtually prior to actually completing them using real-life equipment and resources. In order to further aid immersion, the company has begun developing and implementing engaging narratives in their labs – for instance, asking students to conduct various lab tests in order to help solve a mysterious murder case. Bodekaer ends his TED Talk by reinforcing a key idea: in order to truly maximize the potential impact of VR in schools, teachers must be willing to embrace the technology as a fundamental asset in their teaching toolkit.