Virtual and augmented reality create a new reality in education
Before the printing press, books were reserved for the wealthy and powerful. The everyday person was kept in ignorance. The printed word revolutionized education. Information spread all over the world like wildfire. We are on the brink of another educational revolution that may be just as significant. Virtual and augmented reality are changing how we learn.
Dinosaurs. How many of you were infatuated by the T-rex and a bit dino-crazy when you were little? It’s a exciting time when the world is new and full of possibilities. Our young minds are open to the joys of learning and it soaks up everything. But imagine that instead of poring over books or watching movies, you could walk among dinosaurs? You could have one right in your living room… well, maybe a little one.
You could see every detail from every angle. You could feel the enormity of their size and gain a new respect of what they were when they were alive, because they would be living right in front of you. Watch them breathe and hear their heartbeat… without being eaten.
History is one of those subjects that we tend to checkoff our list. There are a few special teachers out there that dress in period costumes to make it more interesting but most students don’t have any connections to the past. But what if… you were standing in the crowd listening to Martin Luther King, Jr. give his I have a Dream speech. You could feel the tension in the crowd as you look around. You are there. Do you think it would have more meaning than just reading about it? I get goose bumps just thinking about it. Being able to experience history will imprint historical lessons more deeply than just reading about it.
Remember biology and having to dissect a frog? Most schools don’t do that anymore. They just read about it in a textbook. With virtual and augmented reality, you can see and touch the frog in a way that you would never get to do in real life and investigate the world of frog inside and out. See how the circulation of blood moves through its body and study all the parts layer by layer…without any animal being harmed.
So, you fell in love with the frog. Now, you want to be a doctor. Virtual and augmented reality is training doctors. This technology gives them experiences that doctors would never have with tradition education. They can hold hearts in their hands as they learn open heart surgery. They can experiment with different scenarios and develop new ways of treating patients. They can experience an encyclopedia of medical conditions that a physician may see only a couple of times in their career.
Fire fighters to chicken fryers are using virtual reality to learn how to do their jobs. Some jobs you are too dangerous to provide on the job training. But, being an inexperience novice can get you killed. Immersive technology will change that. It allows trainees to experience dangerous situations and develop the skills they need to do a good job in a safe manner. They have a better chance at remembering what to do when they experience a situation simulation versus sitting in a chair watching a really bad PowerPoint and listening to someone drone on for hours.
Students of all levels of education stand a better chance of retaining information when it is experienced. The printing press opened up a world of knowledge in books. Virtual and augmented reality lets you experience that world on a whole new level.