Learning can be made fun

Today, education has come far from the four walls of the classroom, where teaching and learning have been supported by technology. New methods of teaching have come to the fore, one such approach is based on the concept of multisensory learning. Such a transition has the ability to foster intuitive and all-inclusive skills within students.

The introduction of virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality(AR) in education has started to pave the way towards experiential learning opportunities for students around the globe. These active learning modules offer an immersive environment for students, allowing them to engage with the concepts in new and exciting ways, within the classroom. 

VR-based immersive learning has the potential to create a deeper level of engagement with the topics, in a distraction-free environment. It creates chances of better focus and attention on concepts, possibly heightening retention. We are more likely to remember experiences where more than one sense is involved. Moreover, virtual reality also empowers teachers to guide students to visualise things in a different way, utilising different environments and situations.

This reinforces what has been taught in the class, igniting creativity and imagination in real-world situations. VR is playing a crucial role in maintaining enthusiasm and piquing the interest of students. Being aware of the potential of VR to revolutionise education, tech companies are engaging with schools and other educational institutions through workshops and awareness programmes, educating teachers and students about possible applications of VR in the learning space. Such workshops provide a platform for teachers to experience the benefits that VR can bring to the classroom. 

 Properly created VR libraries would enable students to absorb information at a quicker pace, without distractions. Virtual reality provides for alternative methods of presentation of the content. The subject matter should be tailor-made with an eye towards specific learning tasks and the potential to reach the hearts and minds of learners everywhere. Virtual reality has the power to enhance the way students learn and help them understand the concept in an interesting manner. VR caters to the needs of students with learning difficulties by enabling them to participate in an experiment which might be difficult or impossible in real life. 

Imagine a scenario where the student is learning about kinetic or potential energy while riding on a roller coaster, the topics will no longer seem boring. VR can illustrate physical, chemical, biological structures and processes in ways that are easy to conceptualise, bringing a difficult concept to life. The use of VR thus enables students to apply higher-order thinking and problem-solving skills in complex situations. VR has an immense potential to increase student motivation, knowledge construction and enhance classroom practices.

Immersive experience

VR can change the way a learner interacts with the subject matter. It is also important to know the basic interactions of the device: point and select, movements — left, right, forward, back, and drag and drop, and so on. The absolute need for these gestures and elements of control will allow VR usage to be more participatory. Wired or Bluetooth hand-held VR controllers can be an assistive device to help the students navigate through the process.

This encourages students to become active learners rather than passive recipients of information, which helps them reflect on the experience, use analytical skills to form a concept or an idea about the experience, make decisions and take constructive action. Moreover, it is important to take a closer look at the functionalities of wired, Bluetooth VR controller and be aware of the issues to help make a logical and practical choice for the classroom.

There is a general misconception that VR might take away from the role of the teacher. However, if done right, with tools in place it can add to the teacher’s ability to identify gaps in learning, and allow them to become facilitators within the process. It can be of great benefit to educators to have a such a tool at their disposal, but only if paired with the right content. Textbooks, videos and VR share one thing in common, that without proper, vetted content, they will undoubtedly end up collecting dust on a shelf. VR should be something made available to a mass market at a competitive price, with the learner, teacher and administrators kept at the forefront.

(The author is senior education consultant,Veative Labs)

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Learning can be made fun

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