Virtual reality in education

  The idea that it is important to use the most advanced technology in everyday learning, does not leave the minds not only of modern researchers but also almost all of us. According to experts in linguistics and psychology, the most favorable conditions for the absorption of new knowledge are in childhood and adolescence. But lack of interest, dispersion, and the inability to concentrate on difficult things do not allow us to get an effective education at any age. And today’s education system competes with entertainment and needs perceptual mechanisms to engage students in the process of absorbing new knowledge. After all, effective learning is driven by interest, which should be first formed and then maintained.

But in the 21st century, it is hardly possible to captivate students with drawings, watching old movies, or reading outdated literature. That is why VR and AR-enabled devices are becoming more and more popular in education today.

What is the advantage of virtual and augmented realities?

They make it possible to create an environment that is perceived by a person through his or her senses. In fact, VR/AR allows us to simulate a comfortable environment for acquiring new knowledge, and especially for teaching children, teenagers, and young people. No one is thinking for the learner, he/she is rethinking all the information he/she perceives. Who knows, maybe exactly VR and AR will solve the problem of “purity” of new knowledge and information in the learning process. Thus, in the long run, students will be able to perceive new learning material better and no longer have difficulties thinking about who can write my essay for a good grade.

Virtual reality solutions

Not only startups but also large companies offer their solutions in the field of virtual reality for educational purposes. For example, the CLASSVR project is particularly well known in Europe. Its creators offer not just a full-fledged set of virtual reality tools (device + software), but a comprehensive solution that allows for mass training. With the help of such a set, it is possible to teach not only in small groups but also in real classrooms with a large number of students. Teachers can create lesson plans, design programs, and create visual elements of the course by themselves with a customized and intuitive interface. Teachers do not need to have any programming skills at all. Illustrations can be taken from the database of designed plots, including uploading additional content.

One of the earliest in the field of augmented reality was the Handheld Augmented Reality project, authored by scientists from three major American universities. The project was brought to life with a grant from the U.S. Department of Education. As a part of the research, the developers placed a significant amount of data in the free access, dedicated to the creation of augmented reality algorithms for teaching American schoolchildren. Moving around their quite real school, depending on the locations, the student received educational tasks to be solved not only with their knowledge but also with the help of certain skills using the augmented reality system.

Another project that has become particularly famous not only among astronomers but also among ordinary users, is the advanced applications “Star Walk” and “Solar Walk” by VITO Technology. The company has quite large offices in the USA, Germany, and Russia. In 2010, these applications were demonstrated by Steve Jobs himself during the annual Apple presentation. More than 7 years ago, the head of the world’s largest technology corporation reflected on how such applications allow not only to teach professional astronomers but also to acquaint ordinary users with the details of the universe by virtual reality technology.

Difficulties in implementation 

AR and VR formats in education may be different, but their advantages over face-to-face learning are obvious. The transfer of experiences and pictures through virtual and augmented reality is primarily due to the effectiveness of engagement and, therefore, the improvement of the educational process. According to VRAr lab research, more than 90% of learners successfully absorb such material, which gives hope for the effective application of virtual and augmented reality in education.

The development community still has one important problem that stands in the way of the full-fledged integration of these technologies into the educational environment. The rapidly growing body of knowledge about the world around us is very difficult to transfer into interactive forms in a timely way. For any modern scientist, publishing a book does not pose much of a problem, since it is sufficient to open an office application on a computer in order to fix their research. However, there are no mechanisms for creating interactive content using virtual and augmented reality that is understandable to everyone without specialized knowledge.

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