How VR is Redefining Online Learning
Now more than ever, as we grapple with the effects of living with a pandemic, virtual reality is a breath of fresh air that would foster human reconnection while following safety protocols. Perhaps the most significant effects of the pandemic can be recognized on how it greatly affected education.
The Pandemic, Online Learning, and Mental Health
Forced to stay home, schools quickly adapted a technological approach, and classes went entirely online. Initially, the change was met with overwhelming support. Students and teachers didn’t have to leave their homes, and parents didn’t have to worry about the logistics of commuting. However, this joy was short-lived. Soon the adverse reactions were apparent. Students lacked initiative and lost focus as they were not under the physical watchful eyes of teachers. Parents, who were already overworked, had to take on the title of at-home teachers.
However, the effects aren’t just academic. The mental implications were just as dangerous. According to research conducted by Gallup, nearly 3 in 10 parents said their child is experiencing emotional or mental harm because of social distancing and school closures. The primary purpose of school may be education, but the secondary focus was always fostering effective social interactions. Under pandemic conditions, this was all eroded. Additionally, teachers weren’t prepared to adjust their teaching styles to suit the online platform effectively. This presented the challenge of students losing interest altogether as Zoom classes just were not engaging.
But long before Zuckerberg’s Meta and his dream of a 360 virtual space, there have been purposeful strides being made by companies such as BrainSTEM Metaversity. BrainSTEM is a first of its kind. They created a vivid 360 virtual reality learning platform that fosters a highly interactive learning approach. More and more institutions and facilitators are leveraging the power of virtual reality to create an academically rich yet socially engaging approach to online learning.
What Is Virtual Reality?
Virtual reality, as defined by Virtual Reality Society, is a three-dimensional, computer-generated environment where users interact with each other while having the ability to manipulate objects or perform a series of actions as if they were real. At its inception, VR’s core focus was entertainment, such as gaming and live events. However, as the technology becomes more cutting edge, VR is now leveraged to significantly improve online events, remote learning and working.
The Advantages of VR On Online Learning
- Gamification – Gamifying learning bolsters engagement while allowing students to learn in a less restrictive setting. Studies show that students who utilized gaming for learning scored 14% higher in skills-based assessments. Additionally, it takes certain perceptions associated with gaming, such as addiction and over-competitiveness, and repurposes them for learning.
- Exploration – While no simulated experience can compare to the actual Pyramids of Giza, a virtual tour for students is the next best thing. Virtual exploration allows students the opportunity to “travel” to historical locations they wouldn’t otherwise have access to. Students can immerse themselves without costly travel expenses. Griffith University Research cites that 80% of the students rated the experience very highly.
- Interest – VR’s asynchronous practical approach to learning replenishes the lost engagement due to rudimentary online learning.
For true learning to be achieved, both mind and body must be healthy. Perhaps the most significant benefit of VR on distance learning is its power of allowing students to form meaningful social bonds no matter where they are located.