Virtual reality (VR) is a technology that is rapidly gaining traction in the world of education. It brings abstract concepts to life, offers immersive experiences, and creates a more engaging learning environment. This article reveals 14 ways teachers can use virtual reality to improve the learning experience for their students.
What are the uses of VR in teaching?
1. Visiting historical sites
One of the best uses of VR in education is providing students with immersive, lifelike visits to historical sites. Users can be taken back in time and explore ancient Roman or Egyptian civilizations.
History lessons are brought to life, allowing students to virtually walk through historic places and watch world-changing events as they happen. A buffet of sensory stimuli keeps learning interesting and helps with memory retention.
2. Exploring scientific concepts
Difficult scientific concepts are simplified with VR. Complex ideas like how cells work or the formation of black holes are easier to grasp with this technology.
Textbook diagrams and laboratory experiments will still form an essential part of learning. However, virtual reality is an excellent tool for speeding up and simplifying learning.
3. Practicing foreign languages
VR is ideal for learning a language, providing students with interactive and immersive ways to practice reading, listening, and speaking.
Virtual characters and environments that mimic real-life situations give students a better understanding of the language and its nuances. All this without ever having to leave the classroom.
Students lacking the confidence to speak in front of their peers greatly benefit from virtual learning. They can easily practice in the privacy of their own home without the fear of saying the wrong thing.
4. Experiencing other cultures
With VR, teachers can expose students to new cultures around the world. This helps foster global awareness among young learners!
The class could take a virtual tour around India’s Taj Mahal or Japan’s Mount Fuji. Kids can experience exotic locations firsthand while learning more about these countries’ customs, religions, and history.
5. Enhancing physical activities
While VR is a handy tool for stimulating the brain, it also offers a great opportunity for teachers to enhance physical activities at school.
Rather than running laps around a gymnasium or playing tag outdoors, teachers take the session to a higher level. Sports games like tennis or golf with virtual opponents offer an exciting new way to stay fit and healthy.
6. Developing problem-solving skills
Problem-solving skills are essential for any student’s academic success. Virtual reality has many applications that help kids of any age develop.
Online virtual puzzles and brain-testing simulations are highly beneficial to student learning. These types of activities challenge students’ problem-solving abilities while still being fun enough that they stay engaged.
7. Collaborating on projects
A significant benefit of virtual reality tech in education is its potential for collaboration between classmates. This is often more challenging in the traditional classroom.
Online programs like Google Expeditions allow multiple users from different locations to join virtual field trips. Teachers can facilitate group projects between classes from all over the globe.
Check out this video created by Google Expeditions for a little inspiration.
8. Stimulating creativity
Creativity is vital to any student’s education, which is one of VR’s strong points. An impressive selection of applications encourages creative expression among young learners.
By integrating virtual art programs into lesson plans, apps like Google Tilt Brush let budding artists paint spectacular 3D canvases. Teachers can give their classes an outlet where they are free to express themselves in new and exciting ways.
9. Improving memory retention
Advanced memory retention is a valuable skill to have as a student. VR has programs like Immersive Learning, which allow users to create ‘memory palaces.’ These are interactive 3D spaces filled with objects related to whatever topic they’re trying to master.
Visual stimulation helps strengthen neural pathways associated with specific memories while simultaneously providing engaging content.
10. Building empathy
VR offers a unique opportunity for building empathy among young learners. Programs like Project Empathy offer a “collection of thoughtful, evocative, and surprising experiences by some of the finest creators in entertainment, technology, and journalism.”
Classrooms can now get glimpses into experiences far beyond what would generally be accessible. They can gain deeper insights into other people’s plights and perspectives firsthand, fostering greater acceptance.
11. Anatomy learning
Anatomy courses can be notoriously difficult for many students. It’s easier to grasp a concept when physically interacting with it. While animal parts help with discovery, teaching plans can now incorporate 3D models of organs and other body systems using specialized VR applications like VR Anatomy.
These programs provide precise representations of human anatomy that students can manipulate and explore at their own pace. They are ideal teaching tools for any health sciences or biology course.
It’s worth noting that the medical industry uses virtual reality for a wide range of innovative applications.
12. Physics experiments
Physics experiments typically require expensive equipment and large lab spaces. While VR won’t replace the need for these resources, they provide an excellent supplementary way of learning. Schools with small budgets can use a mix of traditional and virtual classrooms to help overcome equipment or space shortages.
Educators can create realistic experiments within a synthetic environment with lower safety concerns and no costly lab setup costs.
A range of programs allows teachers to design unique physics experiments for their classes. One popular example is PhET Interactive Simulations from Colorado University Boulder. This includes over 160 interactive simulations in STEM fields such as chemistry, biology, physics, earth science, and math.
13. Spatial reasoning
Some young learners struggle with abstract problem-solving tasks. VR spatial reasoning games are becoming increasingly popular among educators. A good example includes Minecraft: Education Edition, which focuses on block-based building gameplay.
14. Developing social skills
Social skills such as public speaking or communication between peers are difficult for some learners. Virtual reality offers countless opportunities for learning social skills in a simulated environment. For example, Microsoft’s AltspaceVR platform provides users with rooms to interact with other avatars. This type of simulation also has potential applications outside the classroom, such as therapy sessions targeting Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Also worth reading
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How can VR help with vocational learning?
Vocational learning helps people acquire the skills necessary to perform a specific job or occupation. VR can be a valuable tool for students pursuing careers in healthcare, construction, engineering, hospitality, and much more.
Workplace simulations they’re training for offer students a better understanding of what those jobs entail. This hands-on learning is particularly effective for those who learn best by doing.
Why use VR for students with learning difficulties?
One of the biggest advantages of using virtual reality in the classroom is helping students with learning difficulties. They can access educational content without feeling overwhelmed or intimidated by their peers.
Teachers can personalize instruction based on specific needs. Students can practice skills at their own pace and receive feedback on their progress. They can also enjoy learning in their own home.
Whatever the disability or restriction, VR provides a wonderfully level playing field.
5 disadvantages of VR in schools?
- Cost of Equipment: The cost of purchasing and maintaining VR equipment and paying for content may be high.
- Limited Content: While the availability of applications is growing each year, there is still a limited number on offer.
- Technical Difficulties: Technical factors like slow internet speed and teachers uncomfortable using modern equipment will stifle learning.
- Distractions: As with any new technology, some students will always focus more on playing games than learning. Teachers and parents must closely monitor what the tech is used for.
- Safety Issues: Students may not know how to use devices safely; a particular concern is injury from moving around while wearing a headset. Motion sickness is also a common problem, especially for new users.
Virtual reality offers endless possibilities when it comes to teaching today’s youth. No matter what curriculum your classroom follows, there will always be uses for VR in teaching.
Keep in mind the hardware and software still require development before using them in any serious capacity in schools. For now, VR is a helpful add-on technology for teachers to add to their tool kit.