Back in our early school days, we had papers, textbooks, pencils and maybe a computer lab. Today, we’re seeing an incredible transformation in the classroom through technologies like Virtual Reality (VR). The use of VR continues to make its way into the classroom, and it’s growing rapidly. It is now widely accepted that VR improves knowledge retention and provides an important learning aspect, because it gives students a personal learning experience.
China, the United Kingdom and Australia are just a few of the countries worldwide that recognize the power that VR has to revolutionize education, and their educators have introduced VR in the classroom.
According to the 2018 white paper by Strategy Analytics, a market intelligence company and Huawei, a smart devices provider, education has been a huge focus for the Chinese government, and available education funding has been growing rapidly. In 2016, the sum of VR education projects in Chinese public schools was RMB 600 million, or approximately $87 million USD. In 2017, the figure doubled to RMB 1.2 billion or approximately $175 million USD.
The Beijing Institute of Technology integrated ideological and political theory courses with VR to create a digital course, “Retaking the Long March.” By imitating the geographical environment and climate of China’s historical Long March, the course gives students a chance to better understand the Long March through their own virtual experience. Students reported that in the past, they learned about the Long March through textbooks, which “left little impression.” Now, they experience the Long March instead of reading about it, which they find impressive.
We hear of art, science and technology courses being brought to life with VR technologies. But in the UK, VR is now used to bring philosophical theories to life. At Sevenoaks School, a boarding school for 11-18 year-olds, the headsets are used as a way to introduce students to French philosopher, Rene Descartes’ dream theories.
Descartes’ “Meditations on First Philosophy” discusses the role dreams play in reality and vice versa. By using VR, students experienced how real a simulation can feel and had a better understanding of the blur between reality and illusion. Students then had a discussion and helped bring philosophical thinking back to “real” life.
The Jackson School in Victoria, Australia has also discovered the incredible impact VR can have on special needs students. The students have been using VR in the classroom, and instructors have reported that the experiences helped spark students’ imagination. For example, to gain an understanding of how an Egyptian temple fits together, students can simply take a peek inside. The same instructors also report that lessons with meditative VR experiences, such as those that give students the chance to explore planets and the stars, seem to have a calming effect.
It’s undeniable that VR is part of a movement meeting a global need to transform education. Xennial Digital is working in close collaboration with educators in various academic institutions, to create VR Learning Experiences in the areas of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) to accomplish exactly this objective: to bring a transformative approach to learning in the classroom. By using VR to create more engaging learning experiences, Xennial Digital is working to close the gap between how students consume digital experiences in their daily lives and how they learn, by designing hands-on VR educational environments that allow them to learn from personal exploration and experience.
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