From the earliest attempt on panoramic paintings in the 19th century, to being used to train pilots, immerse individual in the film, creating Head Mounted Display (HMD), to today’s goggles and gloves, Virtual Reality has come a long way.
While the technology has beginnings well before the concept was even coined and formalized, the scope of Virtual Reality as a means of creating the illusion that we are present somewhere we are not has reached far beyond imagination in recent times, thanks to rapid advancements in the development of the technology. Well, besides its applications in various sectors, VR has become a significant tool in the education sector today. It plays a crucial role in enhancing student learning and engagement in the classrooms as well as outside.
In this article, we explore the impacts of Virtual Reality in today’s higher education classroom.
But first, what is Virtual Reality
Virtual Reality refers to a modern technology that provides an immersive and interactive experience using the three dimensional computer-based graphic images. It creates an artificial environment with the help of computer hardware and software and is presented to the user in a way which simulates the real world.
Can VR bring changes in education sector or can it transform higher ed classroom?
The deployment of technology in the education sector has transformed, and continues to transform, the academic world. Technology has taken the learning and teaching experience to a never before level. Immersive technologies – including Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality – have become great tools in the education world with the potential to revolutionize the way universities deliver course content, enabling students to access spaces and engage with experiences that might otherwise be unavailable to them.
Virtual Reality works on the premise of creating a virtual world – real or imagined – and allows users to interact with it. Proven to be a great tool, VR is now being used more and more in the higher education classrooms to enhance student learning and engagement. According to a report published by Goldman Sachs, the number of VR educational users is expected to increase by around 15 million by 2025.
Impacts of Virtual Reality in higher education
VR technology has become an indispensable tool in providing a great learning experience to students. It enables students become more engaged in the classroom. It helps students memorize easily. Using the technology, students in higher education can now experience, practice, and learn subjects by being immersed into the VR environment, wholly. Students can now practice and train in their field of study without actual field visits. VR technology gives more time for instructors to explain and allow students to practice with their hands on.
VR as an aide to deep learning
Virtual Reality has become an aide to deep learning in various fields of study. Researchers in science and medical fields are already making great use of the technology. Using the technology, medical students are now able to experience the world from the perspective of an elderly patient with dementia. With the help of the technology, anatomy students could identify and practice procedures on virtual human organs.
Using Virtual Reality, students studying history could explore landmarks and historical sites extensively, without physically present at the spot. Law students could practice in virtual court rooms or visit the crime spot to observe the possibilities of the crime.
The use of VR technologies goes beyond delivering transformative learning experiences. Future instructors can take advantage of the VR teaching tools. They can practice teaching with the use of virtual students to become more comfortable in the classroom. VR also provides students the facility to visit any college campus virtually to explore the institutions before enrolling. Students can also use the technology to augment programs in criminal science, healthcare, agriculture and fine arts, among others.
Not just the above few examples, the pedagogical benefits associated with immersive technologies are numerous. They not only help students to visualize complex concepts, but also spark creativity and work wonders when it comes to classroom engagement. Well, not just the higher education, vocational training sector has also begun to hugely feel the impact of virtual and augmented reality. People are now able to experience training in 360, and budding mechanics are able to view a working engine from all angles without leaving the lecture room.