As there is a rapid change in technology around the world, many people are interested in how virtual reality-based training will shape learning. A report from the U.S. Department of Labor currently estimates that up to 65% of today’s primary school students will work in fields that don’t currently exist.
As the price of virtual reality headsets continues to fall, virtual reality-based training starts to get more prominent as the number of educational users will jump significantly, up to an estimated 15 million by 2025, according to a report from Goldman Sachs.
Virtual Reality-based training applications, in particular, are expected to grow quickly in higher educational institutions. By 2021, 60 percent of U.S. higher education institutions will be estimated to using the technology to create simulations and immersive learning environments, according to Gartner.
It’s very likely that Virtual Reality will play in big role in training these students by introducing them too difficult concepts that are more easily explained through immersive experiences. But just how much of a role will Virtual Reality-based training play a defining role in the future of learning?
So here are a few defining factors about why virtual reality-based training will be the future of academic institutions and education in general.
Provide Visual and Immersive Learning Opportunities
Classroom applications of immersive reality vary widely and immensely. Institutions are using Virtual Reality to augment programs in criminal science, healthcare, agriculture, interior design architecture, and fine arts, among others. In California, a virtual dissection table that is set up in the J and K Virtual Reality Learning Center at the Western University of Health Sciences lets students learn about anatomical functions and properties by moving layers of virtual tissue to view more than 300 anatomical visualizations, created using scans of real patients and cadavers.
Virtual field trips
Virtual field trips have become one of the most popular applications of Virtual Reality-Based Training technology for learning, and many schools have even begun using Google Expeditions to transport students to far away locations and even inaccessible parts of the planet.
The Google Expedition app is free to download and investing in some of the low-cost cardboard headsets that can be attached to a smartphone now is extremely economical and practical to do. With these simple headsets, students can actively explore anything from Leaning Tower of Pisa to outer space or the deep sea.
One of the most efficient ways to learn a new language is through full immersion, as this requires students to listen to and speak the language they’re learning all day, every day. Since most of us generally can’t afford to take a trip to another country for weeks or even months at a time, virtual immersion is the next best thing. Virtual reality-based training simulations can trick the brain into thinking the experiences are real, and a number of new language learning apps that use Virtual Reality are now being developed.
One such app is called Unimersiv, which can be used together with the Oculus Rift headset. The app allows learners to connect with people from all over the world and practice their language skills while playing games and interacting with other students in a virtual world.
Virtual reality simulations can also help students learn practical skills, and one of the biggest benefits to training people in this way is that students can learn from realistic everyday scenarios without the risk of practicing an unfamiliar skill in an uncontrolled real-life scenario.
Anything ranging from everyday applications to theoretical courses can be conducted via Virtual Reality-Based Training for the highest retention levels by it being completely immersive, interactive and engaging.
Prepare Students for New Virtual Reality Careers
The growth of Virtual Reality-based training in higher education goes beyond just using technology to deliver transformative and interactive learning experiences. Institutions also recognize that they need to give students the skills to pursue careers in their industry of choice, whether that means developing content or helping organizations adopt and optimize these technologies as they become more mainstream.
To that end, institutions are developing new majors, courses and research labs to facilitate the development and sharing of knowledge.
Virtual campus visits
Technology is changing the way students select universities and many schools have now started virtual reality campus tours as a way to connect with applicants on a broader scale. These campus ‘visits/seminars’ allow students to see what it would actually be like to attend universities in other cities and countries in a much more interactive way even if they can’t actually visit it in person.
The virtual reality-based training tours use photos and videos of campuses and their surroundings that enable students to explore theses campuses at a 360-degree angle. For instance, the University of Michigan Football program now has a virtual reality tour that lets students experience what it’s like to play at the university’s stadium.
Architecture and design
Schools are also finding that virtual reality technology is a great way to spark students’ creativity whilst keeping them engaged, especially when it comes to architecture and design.
The Oculus Rift hardware makes it actually possible for architects and designers alike to take computer-generated 3D models and place viewers into those 3D models in order to bring their plans to life.
Less Competition and More Learning
Competition has become one of the major hallmarks of the entire student learning experience. In fact, at the university level competing against one’s peers has actually become more important than grasping the content and the learning experience itself.
In fact, much, if not all, of the competition that defines students’ careers are driven by a focus on exams and grades rather than actual learning. Educators have complained for several years that exams simply cause students to cram and forget the material that they’ve learned previously.
With Virtual Reality, study tools can be adapted to actually allow students to learn at their own pace. These solutions can be catered to each student as an individual learner rather than a group of students. This caters to the variance in the grasping potential of each learner and sees whats fit for each student. This gives the students and learners even more choice when it comes to their academic experiences by creating environments driven by positive reinforcement rather than competition.
Virtual Reality study tools can be created that allow students to be continuously assessed for their grasp of the material being presented without a need for cumulative examinations towards the end. By continuously evaluating a student’s performance throughout the course of a project, Virtual Reality can deliver learning experiences that lead to better retention of information and deeper understanding.
So is Virtual Reality-Based Training here to Stay?
Virtual Reality is really poised to change the way that educators teach and students learn both inside as well as outside of the classroom. While we are just now seeing the beginnings of what will be a completely full-blown integration of Virtual Reality into education, it’s clear that Virtual Reality will deliver the study tools that students need to be successful in fields that have been difficult to teach using conventional methods, as well as, those that haven’t yet been invented.
Now the question we must ask ourselves is what kind of society do we want Virtual Reality education to produce?