Updated: May 4
Virtual Reality: the future of learning? Already, teachers are incorporating VR into their classrooms, but with so much content to choose from, what should teachers be teaching and how should they be explaining it?
You've probably heard of how great a medium VR is in general, especially for storytelling. In this post, I’ll be focusing on the Use Case of viewing ready-made content and where to find educational content as well as freely available materials.
The Use Case of immersive VR viewing educational VR content is not new, especially for ‘learning through experience’ It can be a real game changer for students as they have an opportunity to immerse themselves fully into virtual settings and are able to experience situations that would otherwise be difficult or impossible to replicate.
Image: edgedVR – Learning about space in VR
Content has become more and more accessible for teachers to use during class, but its implementation in the classroom has been recently raised through new applications and consumables headsets.
6 ways to successfully implement VR in the classroom
1. Develop a clear plan: Before introducing VR into the classroom, it's important to have a clear plan for how it will be used, including what content will be covered, what activities will be used, and how the technology will be integrated into the curriculum.
Download the Schools VR plan template to help formulate your plan.
2. Ensure compatibility: Make sure that the VR technology you are planning to use is compatible with the devices and software that you already have in the classroom. It's also important to ensure that the VR content you are planning to use is appropriate for your student's age and skill level.
3. Provide training and support: Provide training and support for both teachers and students to ensure that they are comfortable with the VR technology and know how to use it effectively
4. Start small: It's best to start with a small pilot program and gradually expand the use of VR in the classroom as teachers and students become more comfortable with the technology.
5. Assess and evaluate: Regularly assess and evaluate the use of VR in the classroom to determine its effectiveness and make adjustments as needed.
6. Incorporate a blended learning approach: VR should be used in conjunction with other teaching methods rather than as a standalone tool, as it can be a powerful tool to enhance the learning experience.
How to make students connect using ways like thinking and linking
Teachers should be mindful that VR is not a replacement for the real world, nor is it a replacement for watching videos. Some concepts are better learned through observing the real thing, while others are better learned with VR.
While we don't know everything there is to know about how to use VR in the classroom, students will get more out of their experience with VR if we encourage them to think about what they're seeing and make connections with the real world.
Let's say they're looking at DNA up close. If students identify something they've seen in a biology class before, or something similar in the real world, then they already have something to connect what they're seeing with when they take a real-life biology class. But if we just show them a video of DNA and explain it as a straight lesson, then we haven't done as much for their learning as we could if we added other elements to their experience.
Image: edgedVR – DNA VR learning
Tips for Teachers to prepare classrooms to include all aspects of experiential learning using VR
Provide Concrete Experience – Students actively engage in an experience by using VR which should include activities such as selecting, identifying, moving between scenes and so forth
Enable Reflective Observation – Students reflect on the experience, identifying any connections, inconsistencies, or alignment between the experience and their prior knowledge.
Allow for Conceptual Thinking – Through reflection, students generate new understandings/ideas or modifies their existing conceptualization of an idea/concept to draw conclusions and make hypotheses.
Active Experimentation – Students test their conclusions/hypotheses by applying their knowledge.
Just like in any educational endeavour, the choice of a VR app depends on the needs and objectives of your students. While the benefits of VR are many, it is important to understand its limitations as well. What many people don't realize though is that it's still really hard to write good VR applications — especially if you want them to work simultaneously on different platforms with different controllers and devices.
What you can do is find some content that will inspire your students and help them understand what this new technology can do for them! There are tons of great resources, some are freely available.
Here are some ideas on use cases and where to find VR educational content for immersive viewing.
Virtual field trips: Teachers can use VR headsets to take their students on virtual field trips to places such as historical sites, museums, or other countries. This allows students to experience and learn about different cultures and locations without leaving the classroom.
Travel all over the world to cities and locations here : https://www.360cities.net/
STEM simulations: Teachers can use VR to show students simulations of scientific concepts such as how atoms bond, how a cell functions, or how a volcano erupts. This helps students to understand complex concepts in a more interactive and engaging way. Learn
Language learning: Teachers can use VR to immerse students in virtual environments where they can practice speaking and listening in a foreign language. This allows students to experience the culture and the language in a more authentic way. https://learn.veative.com/modules?domain=Language+Learning
Social studies: Teachers can use VR to bring historical events to life and help students better understand the context and significance of what they are learning For example, they can use VR to simulate a historical battle or a visit to a historical site.
Special education: Teachers can use VR to help students with special needs, such as autism, learn social and emotional skills in a safe and controlled environment. https://vr.youtube.com/
Art and Design: VR can be used to provide students with virtual art studios, where they can create and experiment with digital art, animation and 3D design.
Career exploration: VR can be used to give students a virtual tour of different workplaces, such as a hospital or a construction site, and show them what it's like to work in different fields. FarmVR Forest VR
Therapy and Counselling: VR can be used as a therapeutic tool for students with mental health issues. For example, it can be used to simulate a calming environment for students with anxiety or to help students with phobias confront their fears in a safe and controlled environment. Some amazing FREE wellness content here https://liminalvr.com/corporate-wellness/