The Direct Network

Can Virtual Reality Become the Perfect Learning Aid?

Posted by Liz Schulte on Dec 6, 2017 5:30:00 AM
Topics: Higher Ed, new technology, K-12, virtual reality

Something is always changing or improving in technology. If you turn your back on the industry too long, a new piece of tech will have been developed, implemented and on the way out before you even knew you missed it. Right now, some of the most exciting developments are coming out of virtual reality and artificial intelligence, but what implications will they have on the world of education?

Can Virtual Reality Become the Perfect Learning AidArtificial intelligence is already creeping into nearly every facet of life. From the voice-activated assistants (the monthly use of which has grown over 128% over last year), like Amazon’s Alexa®, to chatbots ready to assist customers day or night on most websites. Most recently, though, Google has been making news with their releases in virtual reality.

Google has several virtual reality options available for everyday people and schools. Most recently, the company has made Google Daydream available on two Samsung phones with the promise of more to come by the end the year. Daydream is a virtual reality headset designed to work with certain phones that support Google’s virtual reality apps and games. Already the system is being used for more than a better-video-game-playing experience. Some psychologists use virtual reality to help people overcome phobias through exposing individuals to fears without the real-life threat of the stimulus.

Google Expeditions, which was designed with classrooms in mind, has also undergone an upgrade. As one of the most accessible VR experiences, students can explore 360-degree photos and 3D scenes for educational reasons — now with an annotation feature for a better learning experience. Recently, Google opened the technology to public with a new app. The app allows people to connect with a tour or explore locations on their own.

The most exciting advancements in virtual reality are coming from the latest Google VR experiments in training. Already there have been practical applications for virtual reality in several fields, including medicine with treatment for phantom limbs and providing procedural practice for medical students.

In Google’s experiment, virtual reality was tested against video instruction when teaching people how to make coffee. One group learned from watching a YouTube video and the other group learned through Google’s virtual reality simulation. The VR group took less time to learn the process and made fewer mistakes than those who simply relied on the video for instruction.

But VR technology still has room for improvement. One of the areas is finding the best order or method of presenting information to trainees. For example, in the coffee experiment, subjects often did the tasks out of order and missed instructions. Humans have a tendency toward non-linear actions or ways of thinking that will require some adaptation from virtual reality — maybe by combining more gaming intelligence into virtual reality training situations.  

However, even if virtual reality isn’t the perfect learning aid yet, it is on the way. Companies training employees through virtual reality isn’t far off. Walmart has plans to move to virtual training by the end of the year.

Exposing kids to virtual reality while they are in school will help them understand how to adapt to and work with technology that will be a part of their futures.  

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About Liz Schulte

Liz Schulte is an author and business owner with a background in customer service, marketing and higher education development.

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