Virtual and augmented reality have been part of mainstream entertainment for years. Think of 2009 when the movie Avatar was released. Though it was not the first 3D movie, its use of incredible imagery demonstrated what can be achieved when using 3D. At the time, it was breaking box office records. Today, it’s the norm, and it is more unusual to see a blockbuster release that isn’t in 3D. As it continues to grow in popularity, there’s been a surge in the use of virtual learning, e-learning and online learning, particularly with the spread of COVID-19. This may leave us with the question: how will virtual learning enhance my child’s education?
Using their imagination
When children are allowed to be creative, it makes learning more fun. Take the Montessori Method as an example, which is a “method of education that is based on self-directed activity, hands-on learning and collaborative play”. This style of education encourages curiosity through play, teaches independence and self-discipline, while promoting hands-on learning. When children are allowed to learn outside of the typical confines of which they’re accustomed, it opens up a whole new world for retaining new information and teaches them to think outside the box.
Without the constraints of a physical classroom, children can now have the flexibility to learn when it most suits them. This is particularly beneficial for teenagers, as studies show a link between later school start times and tremendous social and health benefits for students. Some of these include better sleeping habits, better class attendance, improved grades, and even fewer road accidents.
New skills directly applicable to the workforce
The workforce of the future will be drastically different from today’s. Digital skills will be necessary for many and possessing the ability to manage one’s workday virtually or fully online will be an added asset when students begin their careers. Just take Shopify as an example. The company is permanently moving to a work-from-home model, making it an organization that is now “digital by default”.
With the increase in educators using AR and VR in the classroom, children are now able to learn and gain experiences that peers from previous years would never have known were possible. Students can now take virtual tours of popular museums or famous landmarks without leaving the classroom or their own home. Fancy a trip to the zoo? Google has a feature that allows you to view AR versions of animals right in your living room.
As VR continues to gain in popularity for educators, it can provide an opportunity for students of all abilities to learn through experience, with the added bonus that many programs and tools can be low cost. For children with special educational needs, like hearing impairments, ADHD or autism, studies have shown that AR has benefitted their education and learning in many areas. Some of the benefits to using VR or AR with students with disabilities can include better engagement, increased motivation, and improved interaction with other students.
Experiential learning can create a safe learning environment for many students. It can also help with overall engagement and to bridge the gap between theory and practice, creating a learning experience that is more memorable and impactful for many.