Can virtual reality become a part of academic learning?

While teachers and students are excited about VR, they have reservations

The uses of Virtual Reality have increased drastically over the past few years.

Virtual Reality, or VR, is a technology that allows you to experience a digitally constructed world in 360 degrees using specially made headsets.

While VR is mostly limited to gaming, movies and videos at the moment, Metrolife spoke to some youngsters and professors to find out how it can be used in education.

Mayur Ramesh, a student of Dayanand Sagar university, believes that VR can be a new and exciting way to learn things. He, however, has reservations. 

“I personally think that VR cannot replace the teacher-based teaching in schools and colleges. VR can offer you experience, but we are used to teachers clarifying out doubts, and making things simple for us. VR can be beneficial if used in limits,” Mayur says.

Sharvil, a commerce and law graduate, says VR could present a new world of possibilities compared to time-honoured ways like educational tours and planetariums.

He says VR technology may in fact pose a threat to planetariums because the 360 degrees view gives us everything planetariums do, but in our homes or even in cars.

“But this replacement could only be possible in the future with better versions of VR,” Sharvil adds.

One teacher says that while VR can help in the teaching of some subjects, for some others, the physical presence of a teacher is a must.

“Biology, chemistry could be taught using VR headsets but subjects like Mathematics and Computer Science would need the guidance of teachers, for instance to solve problems and learn programmes,” Girija Nagrajan, a computer science teacher at Sindhi High School, says.

She believes the old-fashioned ways of teaching hold merit; you don’t get the holistic experience of going to a planetarium by just putting on a headset, she says.

“If VR is introduced in schools and colleges, the visual experience cannot replace teacher-based education. However, tough subjects can be taught better by complementing classroom education with VR,” she adds.

While VR presents multiple opportunities for education, the technology still has limitations: while it is not accessible to many, there are also concerns about how prolonged use can affect the eyes.

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