Virtual Reality Potential by John Anderson
Imagine being able to walk through the Pyramids, or being god-like and meddling with the orbits of planets with your hands, or even watching a Shakespeare play as it happens. Impossible in reality, but virtually it’s all possible. Virtual Reality has the potential to revolutionize education, and take hands-on experience to a new level.
The technology for VR is fairly simple. A gyroscope embedded in the headset helps track where you’re looking. Some headsets also use beacons to track your 6DOF (6 degrees of freedom). When headsets successfully track your motions it gives a feeling of hyper realism.
It’s not a new tech; some earlier examples are the Virtual Boy made by Nintendo in 1995. It didn’t have motion tracking, instead it was mounted on a tripod-like stand and you placed your eyes in the goggles. New VR headsets bear resemblance to the failed product.
In the classroom students watch videos touring the pyramids in History class. With VR they can immerse students into the actual pyramid halls. It’s all about stars and planets, through videos and lectures. Now it’s possible to learn by actually watching virtual stars, and experimenting with them. Even in English class, there’s the possibility to take Romeo and Juliet to a new level, by participants taking the role of Romeo.
Education can be remade. It has the chance to make kids interested in learning again. Every subject could use VR technology in order to make class more interesting and comprehensible. If you were able to see the facial expressions and tone given by a Shakespeare play, it could help to understand them much better than watching a Hollywood movie, or by reading it. “You had to be there” situations are no more, since now you can be there.
There is one problem: making it work. You can’t have 30 VR kits in the classroom for each kid. Even if you could, most VR headsets require a good computer to function well. The simple solution is having a VR room. Much like the computer rooms most schools have, a VR room would have multiple set-ups so kids could switch off once they finish the video, and other kids not watching may watch on the screen playing the other student’s experience, and they could give input on how to interact.
Another possible way to implement VR into schools is using the student’s phones. Many YouTube videos have a 360 animation now, and using something like Google Cardboard, a cheap cardboard box that holds your phone to your eyes, would be the easiest way to immerse classrooms in the subject.
VR is a new and growing form of technology, and it has many potential ways to branch out. Education is just one of those branches showing growth. San Francisco Unified School District and Polk County Public Schools in Florida, are already using Nearpods to teach lesson plans. Nearpod is much like Google Cardboard, but it is branded differently.
Nearpod, with the help of 360 cities, got many panoramic images to implement into their lesson plans for students. These lesson plans are around 20-50% virtual reality, some of it even being interactive.
With grades up in these pilot schools, VR in education may be the new way to learn.