The Likely Role of AR & VR in Modern Education
Image credit: Roundup Reads
Guest post by Patrick Foster of Ecommerce Tips
How Will AR & VR Technologies Fit Into Education?
The education system has always needed to have its finger on the pulse of the technology industry, because while the principles of pedagogy haven’t changed enormously over the years, the methods certainly have. And with today’s students facing a future that will be massively dominated by the digital world (and likelier than ever before to build careers in tech-related fields), it’s incredibly important that we prepare them using all available tools.
When it comes to AR & VR technologies, however, it isn’t always obvious how they can — or should — be used for educational purposes. They’re expensive, after all, and still far from achieving the kind of mainstream appeal that would clearly merit such expense.
Regardless of the extent to which they are useful now, however, there’s use in considering how they’re likely to be folded into educational practices sooner or later. Let’s take a look at how educators are (probably) going to be using AR & VR tech.
Allowing personalized learning experiences
In schools that have large class sizes, it can be challenging to give each student the kind of education that takes into account their personal abilities, strengths, weaknesses, and interests. Course materials are expensive and often cumbersome, and teachers simply don’t have the time to spend with students one-on-one.
What AR & VR tools easily allow is extensive personalization, and it isn’t limited by hardware. A classroom could have just one VR headset, for instance, but a separate account for each student, creating an entirely different learning environment catered to the student using it.
Throughout the entire duration of their time in schooling, their VR account could continue to develop in line with their choices and performances. Teachers could easily monitor their activity from elsewhere — imagine a class of students using distinct VR headsets with the teacher overseeing everything from a single monitor. It’s entirely possible, and (I’d say) quite likely.
Supporting advanced work and assessments
Finding unique ways to challenge students can be an issue for schools with limited ability to arrange field trips or personal tuition, and the many problems with conventional testing systems are well-established. Backed by intuitive development tools for teachers, AR & VR tech could greatly expand the range of options for both educational exercises and formal assessments.
Think about the difference between following a standard set of puzzles in a book and engaging with an AR-enhanced puzzle through a basic smartphone. The latter is not only going to be more interesting — it’s also going to be more complex. The more factors you add into the equation, the greater the challenge becomes, and you can take the puzzle in whatever direction you like.
You could even configure a work assignment to scale in difficulty and scope to respond to the student’s ability. If they start struggling, the software can step in, giving them some guidance and pointing them in the right direction. If they breeze through everything, the software can ramp up the difficulty. And when the teacher looks at the results afterwards, they can get a comprehensive breakdown of how everything went.
Providing new opportunities for students with disabilities
Bolstering accessibility is one of the greatest accomplishments of the technological revolution, and VR tech has the power to provide remarkable options for students who are simply incapable of having certain experiences. The internet provides so much for those with ambition but limited means, and someone unable to physically get out into the world can still thrive.
Just imagine what someone wheelchair-bound could do from the classroom. They could visit the seven wonders of the world in VR. They could forge entrepreneurial careers (the ecommerce world has a selection of industry-specific businesses for sale that can be run from anywhere — no store needed). They could build their own virtual world and invite others to join them.
And on the topic of shared experiences, think about how students could express themselves creatively. We all learn differently, and students who struggle to express themselves vocally (for instance) might flourish when given the chance to communicate through manipulating virtual environments. The possibilities are remarkable. It’s understandable for some to fear that the human element of education has been lost, but in this way, technology can actually play a part in bringing it back.
Patrick Foster is a writer and ecommerce expert for Ecommerce Tips. He’s been meaning to get an HTC Vive for some time, but keeps putting it off. Check out the blog, and follow along on Twitter @myecommercetips.
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