Virtual Reality - From the Living Room to the Classroom

Virtual Reality - From the Living Room to the Classroom

Shrutika Lawand, Principal, Billabong High International School - Pune

Leveraging her expertise in the field of education, Shrutika aims to make the school a frontrunner in offering high standards of quality education.

Technology and information have been varying at a fast pace and at times our generation finds it challenging to keep up with this fast pace. IN the 1960s the most exciting technology was Rocket Science and the most mysterious technology was Computer Science. When NASA was designing the Saturn V to get to the moon, it used some of the most powerful computers that existed in 1960. Today the smartphones in our pockets have more computing power than all the computers that NASA used in 1960 to design their rockets. Technology has evolved so much in these years that NASA used computers to launch a man on the moon and we use our smartphones to launch some angry birds at some virtual pigs. This is the power of changing technology.

This fast changing information age has gifted us with one the most magical and mindblowing emerging new technology called the Virtual Reality or Augmented Reality. This technology helps us to move around 3D objects anywhere around the world and place them where you would choose them to be placed merely by using the headset.

Virtual reality allows us to feel, learn, remember and process new ideas more experientially and deeply. Edgar Dale has stated that after two weeks of receiving information the human brain 10 percent of what it reads, 20 percent of what it hears and 90 percent of what it experiences or does. Humans are broadly wired to learn by doing and VR allows us to do it. The most amazing aspect of Virtual reality is the emotional one. The key differentiator between Wisdom and knowledge is Compassion. One of the most surprising and unexpected outcomes of this invention is that the minute one puts on a headset and lives as another gender in another place at another time one immediately feels compassion. So much so that the entire Industry has nicknamed it as the ‘Empathy Machine ‘And therefore it has been used by the United Nation to successfully change votes on the refugee crisis.

Virtual reality will be seen impacting the Education sector strongly soon. We are all 3D creatures. Our brain is the most powerful 3D computer. We have evolved to think and store memory in three dimensions. When we look at
the information on a flat piece of paper, it takes our brain a few seconds to translate it to a 3D format before using it. The fact that we can tap our 3D computer in our head is one of the biggest promises that Virtual reality holds for all of us. This technology will dramatically change how we interact with data. I believe that Virtual reality is going to be a major platform for productivity and sharing information. Virtual reality is seen to have the ability to free us all from the tiny addictive screens in our hands and will take the data and place it all around us.

I can soon visualise a period where Virtual Reality devices will replace the 2.6 billion smartphone users

The way we share information impacts the way our students learn. Most of the times they lose out on important information. As educators, we always look for solutions to make knowledge transfer far easier faster and universal. Virtual reality will completely change the way we learn, work and think. The VR device allows students to place3D objects around themselves and interact with them. VR enables us to give realtime experiences to and access applications that work best with the human brain. Virtual Reality is still in the developing phase but soon this technology will be available to all of us through smart classes or even contact lenses.

I can soon visualise a period where Virtual Reality devices will replace the 2.6 billion smartphone users. VR in combination with neurosciences has the potential to create amazing learning experiences for children. The advantage VR has over others is that it can appeal to even to the less responsive learner, leaving no student behind. VR allows students to access instruction at their own pace and interact with the material at their own pace thus making personalised learning systems more accurate and relevant. It is a tool to improve education and productivity and will allow us to unlock the untapped potential of our children. One of the ways that schools use VR in education today is by taking children on virtual field trips. E.g. Students learning the history of Greece would be able to walk in the era of ancient Greek and explore historic monuments by using all senses. This would bring learning to life than what books or other online information would do. Imagine a professor teaching a human genome with a 3D DNA string floating around the classroom. Imagine students walking through museums or nature exploring concepts with information floating around them. This is the future we are going to live in.

It’s time now that schools embrace this technology that moves classrooms to children’s living rooms and transports them into this three-dimensional space. It’s up to us, the educators to make learning meaningful and create a more connected and better world.