Integrating Virtual Learning into Classrooms

Education Technology Insights | Thursday, January 24, 2019

Students are using Virtual Reality (VR) to learn new skills. Even though VR is in the infancy stage, its applications are promising.  Studies show that they retain more information and apply what they have learnt from virtual reality exercises. VR, which was once considered expensive, is becoming more affordable and is reaching classroom teachers. Cheaper VR options like Google Cardboard that are compatible with VR-capable smartphones are disrupting the market. However, teachers are still unsure regarding the implementation of such cutting edge technology in regular classrooms. There are concrete reasons for teachers concerns because successful VR implementation takes careful planning.

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Content Rules over Everything  

The richness and the depth of content decide the success of VR-based learning program. For creating a 10-minute simulation, a team of developers has to work thousands of hours. For example, surgical medicine students who want to learn to operate on a patient with a laceration on the abdomen must learn to work together to clean, staple, and bandage the wound. The engaging and immersive simulation provided by VR can teach the entire process to students without posing any threat to any real patient.  

Learning to Use VR

Teaching students to use VR is as important as the topic they are learning. Throwing students in a VR environment without proper instructions can lead to the failure of the program. A digital-native student cannot thrive in a VR simulation. It begins by making the students comfortable with the technology. A ten-minute simulation might even take an hour long session to prepare students for the activity. Even after the session is over the instructor must debrief the students to reflect on their experiences and reinforce what they’d learned.

Integrate, not Add

The instructors or the teachers must demonstrate the compatibility of VR with other learning activities in their program. If the VR program is treated separately and additively, it might lose its value. VR must be used to make the learning enjoyable, but new exercises must be added to keep the creative juices flowing. Once the students finish the session, the rest of the program must be referred back to the core learning of the VR lesson.

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