One of the great advances in education and training is the introduction of VR and AR technology. Educators were quick to see the immense benefits of these new immersive technologies. And the learners also have more fun with them. As companies like XR Applied continue to drive development, we should expect VR and AR to be found in every classroom within a few years.
The world of education and training has always been a hotbed of research and development. In their constant pursuit of higher education standards, many practitioners in the field have been willing to try new approaches and techniques. The result is that today’s classrooms often don’t look like they did a few decades ago.
This willingness to take new approaches in imparting knowledge and skills is not limited to pedagogy and theory. It also extends to trying out the latest technologies. So educators are now turning to virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). And there is already consensus that immersive technologies are among the greatest advances in education and training that we will ever see.
Current Examples Of VR Training
There is no silver bullet for using VR and AR in education. There are almost too many uses, and we are only just beginning to discover what we can do with this technology.
It can be used, for example, for simple information overlay on real objects. In this way, additional information could be displayed – like a virtual version of the boards we see in museums. Or it could be used for simple procedural instructions.
At the other end of the spectrum, it can be used to create fully simulated environments and scenarios that may not even exist in the real world. This is an extremely important advantage of VR. It enables students and trainees to find themselves in realistic situations that traditional techniques could either never safely simulate or not at all.
But there are other uses between these two extreme ends of the AR and VR spectrum. Here are a few examples.
Virtual Zoos In Education
National Geographic magazine is known for the quality of its content. That goes for its VR applications, which offer 360-degree videos that students can immerse themselves in to discover history and geography or even see different animals up close.
And then, of course, there is Google, which has integrated augmented reality directly into its standard search application. Here, school children researching various animals – from dogs to lions – can see an extended 3D version of the respective animal directly in front of them with the help of a mobile browser and cell phone camera.
These approaches create much more memorable experiences, especially for young learners, which is important in encouraging engagement with the subject matter.
Gamification Of The Learning Process
Another popular example of immersive technology used in education is XRApplied, which created a fun and engaging Balloon Pop Fun Learning app. Children can have fun by aiming at virtual balloons with an augmented reality bow and arrow.
The idea behind it is that children learn important areas of knowledge from an early age through the playful preparation of learning content and are also motivated to do so themselves. Balloon Pop Fun Learning achieves this by combining balloons, which, among other things, represent different words, letters, animals, and colors, with a point system. This way, the children get instant feedback as to whether they popped the correct balloon. They are also encouraged to move on as they try to beat their previous score.
Virtual Reality For Vocational Training
Not only young learners can benefit from virtual and augmented reality technologies. Another area where these two technologies make themselves felt is in vocational training.
Some of the most eye-catching applications relate to scenarios where the trainees would otherwise be at risk, such as B. in emergency services training. These include B. active shooting scenarios for police officers or simulations of burning buildings for firefighters.
However, it’s not just about simulating the dangerous or the impossible. Even relatively everyday scenarios benefit enormously from immersive training techniques.
Learners equipped with headphones and smartphones can immerse themselves in training to become cashiers or unload trucks in a warehouse. While neither role would benefit from VR and AR at first glance, scalability and repeatability offer two major benefits. The first is that the learners can set their own pace and are trained at a comfortable pace (not too fast, not too slow). You can repeat modules as many times as needed without taking additional time from a human instructor. And for companies, the self-control of the learners means that the investment in VR or AR pays off many times over due to lower training costs.
What Other Advantages Do AR And VR Have In Education And Training?
Education and training often mean that participation in a specific location is required. This can be a disadvantage for people in hard-to-reach areas. However, with connected AR and VR, trainees and students can collaborate remotely and access training that previously relied on physical location and equipment. A virtual classroom can also accommodate an unlimited number of students, which helps reduce the overall cost of education.
We’re all different, and what works best for one isn’t best for everyone. For example, some people learn very visually, while others read their information straight from a simple old textbook.
Since part of the promise of VR and AR is to make materials and study spaces easier to access, learners can find the courses that suit them best rather than content with what happens to be near their place of residence. This will encourage teachers to create courses and study materials suitable for all types of learners, not just what seems to work best for a random sample of the population, as is the case in the traditional classroom.
What Are The Barriers To Using VR And AR In Education?
Using virtual reality on a large scale can be costly. The most powerful headsets are quite expensive (even the inexpensive Oculus still costs several hundred dollars), and some require connecting to powerful computers, which are also expensive.
However, there are affordable alternatives too. A copy of the Google Cardboard concept, for example, is available for just a few dollars and transforms a normal mobile phone into a full-fledged VR device.
The other side that can get costly is the software. This is negligible with XRApplied’s AR Balloon Pop Fun Learning apps, which cost only a few dollars. However, when bespoke applications are required, prices can go up very quickly.
But what Google did with the Cardboard for the hardware when it offered a more affordable solution, XRApplied also does for the software. In addition to the in-house apps, the company also offers its tools and processes to enable the fast and inexpensive development of individual applications.
Just like back then, when the computer found its way into the education sector and not all educators were “computer literate,” there will be a phase in which not everyone is VR / AR competent. This will be a small barrier to entry. However, since much of the technology can be used with little additional training beyond basic computer skills, it will not be as much of a hurdle as computers.
Motion Sickness And Discomfort
While discomfort and motion sickness can be an issue, luckily, it’s relatively limited. First of all, it only occurs in virtual reality, where bulky headsets are currently used that replace the user’s entire field of vision. This has two effects.
First, the bulk of the headset can be too much for young learners when it comes to more than short sessions. Second, the user’s view is replaced by a virtual world, which can be slightly delayed compared to the movements of the user, which can lead to balance disorders and thus to a certain degree of motion sickness.
However, it is expected that these two problems can be eliminated in the years to come with improved hardware and workmanship. In addition, there are now many applications that are actively in corporate settings to reduce the effects of motion sickness. An example of this is reducing the user’s field of vision, which reduces the separation between what the eyes see and what the other senses perceive.
Prepare For More VR And AR In Education
Even if virtual and augmented reality is not yet fully integrated into education and training, they are already well on the way there. Indeed, today it isn’t easy to imagine a future without these tools as an integral part of learning and training. The benefits they offer are too good to ignore, and as hardware and software get better and cheaper, adoption will only accelerate.