From elementary school through to college, digital learning tools and environments are playing an increasingly important role in education. Augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR) are two learning environments that are going to make a big impact on how students learn, now and in the future.
As the prices for VR headsets reduce, it is easier for educators to make the argument that augmented and virtual reality have a role to play in the classroom.
Transforming learning experiences
Field trips are expensive, require schools to hire buses, need insurance and risk assessments. Plus, not every destination is easily accessible. Students want an immersive experience. But taking a class of 30 to Machu Picchu or Ancient Egypt isn’t always possible, or practical, without defying the laws of time and space.
Students learn in different ways. Visual learners, in particular, will appreciate AR and VR technology. It is also easier for schools to accommodate those with different language needs, since language modules can be more easily loaded into learning experiences. The potential for AR and VR in the classroom is exciting, and these technologies already appeal to every age group in the education system.
As a sign of how quickly children of school age have embraced AR, just look at the success of Pokemon Go. Launched in 2016, it is so popular that it now holds the record for the quickest app-based game to exceed $1 billion in revenues. It has hundreds of millions of active users around the world and shows no sign of slowing down.
Virtual reality games are also becoming more popular. Although the growth in VR hasn’t been as quick as anticipated, as content improves and headsets reduce in price, more consumers are buying them and embracing a virtual world.
Implementing AR and VR in the classroom
It might sound like something out The Matrix, but it turns out that plugging a classroom of students into a virtual experience is hugely popular. As a way of teaching history, geography and other subjects that benefit from an immersive experience, such as art and biology, the majority of pupils prefer that to watching videos and reading books.
As a learning experience, it makes students who struggle with reading understand complex subjects more easily. Studies have also found that VR in particular can enhance motor skills, improve how students use their imagination and it can inspire learning through gamification. Content created for AR and VR platforms also help students solve real-world problems, applying critical thinking in a practical way.
Practical problem solving is something employers are keen that the education system approaches more effectively. If VR is used in classrooms to support hands-on learning, then the applications in STEM fields could make a real impact on the economy in years to come. Students can learn how code works, how to write it at an earlier age, and how to tackle common hardware challenges in a safe, immersive, virtual environment.
Educators are sold on the benefits. Now it looks like some serious investment is going into AR/VR classroom technology.
According to Forbes, “Goldman Sachs estimates that roughly $700 million will be invested in AR/VR applications in education by 2025. Gartner projects that 60 percent of all higher education institutions in America will be using virtual reality in the classroom by 2021.”
As a market, it is lucrative enough that marketing and sales agencies are now working with AR/VR manufacturers and content creators to help them sell to schools and colleges. Education modules and approaches to learning are changing as a result of the impact of this technology in the classroom.
Dariya Lopukhina is an educational technology enthusiast and blogger. She worked at edtech startup and since then has a passion for writing on emerging technologies in education. Presently, she is the marketing strategist at Anadea, a software company with a solid track record in building custom eLearning solutions.