More than 87 million virtual reality headsets were sold in 2016. Often used for gaming, watching programs and education, the VR market is expected to explode from $1.5 billion in sales in 2015 to almost $40 billion in the next five years. How will your school take advantage of the industry boom?Schools are using technology to enhance students’ learning experiences, augment the admission process and collaborate with others around the globe. While some headsets carry a price tag near $1,000, Google Cardboard has been a popular option with prices as low as $7. With a variety of programs and applications, K-12 students can learn about the human anatomy, stand on a ship during an arctic journey and travel to Mars.
American students, interacting with students in Australia, used the game Minecraft as a platform, for building a virtual version of the Old North Church in Boston. The Australian students noticed their virtual doors were not centered, a cultural difference being the United States does not use the metric system. As a result, the students in Australia learned to convert meters to feet.
Virtual reality also enhances what students can do. Inge Knudsen, a teacher at Learnmark Business College in Denmark, created a virtual building site with safety issues. Students are now able to visit the site and take photos of unsafe areas. Other schools are able to save money and use VR instead of traditional field trips. Now, class outings can be to the Great Barrier Reef.
As schools work to increase enrollment, virtual tours are being offered so students can “walk” through multiple campuses without having to spend time and money on several trips. YouVisit has made more than 1,000 campus tours available online for the Oculus Rift headset. Some schools have even used VR to focus on a specific segment of the student body. Athletic facilities have been shown to athletes, chemistry labs have been the focus in some schools and residence halls in others. The University of Hartford’s business school sends custom Google Cardboard headsets to students who have been accepted to their program. The goal is to make the prospective a student an enrolled student, using the virtual tour of the campus and facilities as a tipping point.
Biology, anatomy, geology and engineering have had VR as a cornerstone of their learning processes at some schools. Anatomy students have used VR for virtual cadaver dissections and engineers have been able to simulate what a completed project will look like and how it will react in “the real world.”
Seeing the possibilities of VR in education, alternative content providers are starting to emerge. Immersive Education offers “education through experience.” Some learning options include learning the Theory of Relativity from Einstein himself, flying to the moon and medical training. AltspaceVR allows the creation of virtual worlds where the user can interact with friends, play games, take on challenging puzzles or learn a new language.
The VR boom is in full swing, offering new ways to learn, experiments without risk and the removal of international borders. Students now have the opportunity to be a part of their own learning.