Virtual Reality (VR), a ground-breaking technology is designed to create a three-dimensional environment in which the users are immersed and able to interact with 3D worlds. By stimulating as many senses as possible, such as vision, hearing, touch, even smell, the computer is transformed into an artificial world which is as good as the real world.
Although initially this innovative technology has been used in the gaming industry, but now it is being applied in various fields to modify the surroundings. There is a wide range of applications for VR which include military, healthcare, entertainment, fashion, business, sports, media and many more. VR produces a set of data which can be used to develop models for architecture or healthcare, training methods for students and employees and different ways of communication and interaction for all industries.
Until recently, virtual reality was a concept we saw in the sci-fi movies. But now, VR is used in educational areas to enhance the quality of education and the way it is delivered.
People are constantly looking for easier and effective ways to give and receive knowledge. While knowledge is becoming easily available for more people, the current approach of education has two drawbacks:
- It’s based on fact retention
Teaching methods are based on providing facts about world. However, having access to or acquiring a lot of information is not learning. A well-informed person is not always well-educated.
- A lot of people have difficulties in grasping information.Too much information in a short period can be overwhelming for students. As a result, they become disengaged and lose focus on learning.
Better Understanding for School Students
With VR, students will not be limited to word descriptions or book illustrations but they can explore the topic by living it. The experiences on the virtual field trips will feel real and this will engage their minds.
Improved Learning Experience
Exposure to technologies such as science labs for people in healthcare industry or flight or battlefield simulation for military allow them to understand how things work based on practical experiences.
In VR classrooms, the students belonging to same class are present as a digital representation. Hence, although they are in their homes away from each other, they can interact with each other virtually to discuss, analyse and learn from one another.
VR helps to bridge the gap between students and teachers. With the help of VR, the teachers and students can be together in the same room with digital representations of themselves and the teachers can guide the students.
Variety of Learning Styles
There are different styles of learning such as visual, auditory, tactical and kinaesthetic. Every individual has a strong preference for these styles for learning new skills and information. VR is able to access at least three or four of these styles simultaneously. Also, VR can eliminate the language barrier.
Eliminates Risk or Safety Concerns
Using VR, medical students can practice surgeries without harming a patient through experience and knowledge. Fire-fighters and military personnel can learn how to respond in dangerous real life situations without actually risking their lives. VR helps to build a tangible environment or situations which eliminate the risk of getting injured and train students flawlessly.
Future of VR in Education
Clearly, the future of VR based education is quite exciting and promising. But implementing VR in education is full of challenges which we need to overcome.
Below are the some properties that should be present in the education applications for good VR learning experience:
The apps must be designed in a way that the experiences feel real. This can be achieved by using VR’s most recognizable component, head-mounted display (HMD).
Easy to use
The apps should be user friendly so that eliminates the need to have some special skills to interact.
A good VR experience is created only with a good story. Hence, the art of storytelling must be advanced so as to deliver the messages in an understandable manner.
The apps should allow students to explore at their own pace by providing control over the level of difficulty.
Teachers should be able to measure the knowledge acquired by the students using VR. This is essential to make correct calculations to measure the success or failure of a student.
Shortcomings of Virtual Reality
Along with advancement in technological innovations, come some unfortunate drawbacks. The five main disadvantages of using VR can be as below:
Destroys Human Connections and Social Life
The traditional education is based on human interactions and connections. VR involves only the student and the software which can damage the student-teacher relationships and friendships with classmates.
Lack of Flexibility
Education is not a fixed activity. It fluctuates and this helps students to be flexible, ask questions, receive answers and share their experiences. This kind of flexibility is not present in the software which is already programmed to work in a certain way.
As VR is a software, it can go wrong anytime which might take time to get fixed. It could be expensive as well. Also this will hamper the students’ focus.
Addiction to the virtual world
The virtual world can act as a drug and make students addicted to it as students might feel the VR experience better than real world.
The programming and maintaining of VR is very expensive. It also requires setup with specifications. Hence, it is claimed that the poor will not be able to afford VR based education. Only the rich will be able to access it which will create inequality in education.
Astonishing Stats on Virtual Reality
The virtual reality statistics indicate that, in the coming years, VR will be in great demand. Some statistics are mentioned below:
- The global VR market revenue is expected to reach $22.9B in 2020.
According to virtual reality market forecast, this number is rising gradually and could reach astounding $160B by 2023.
Today, more than 171 million people use VR device worldwide.
The applications of VR are expanding daily. Currently, there is an explosive surge in the usage of VR in gaming industry.
- The worldwide expenditure on VR content and apps is forecasted to reach $34.08B in 2023.The software revenue is expected to be around $6.4B of the total $34.08B. We can see a rapid growth in the in VR sales as it was values at $8.90B in the year 2018.
- Although 60% of parents are concerned about risks and safety related to VR usage by children, 62% of parents are certain about the improvement in the quality and understanding by their children.
- It is estimated that the sale for standalone VR devices and apps will increase as high as 29 million units till 2022. VR devices such as tethered headsets which are connected to a computer, smart phones, or gaming consoles will sell around 18 million units in 2022.
- There seems to be a noticeable increase in the use of VR in the coming years as 38% VR users intend to extend the use of VR as also 32% users want to increase the use a little more.
- According to statistics, Microsoft Inc. Owns the largest amount, that is, a total of 10,014 of AR/VR patents spanning 3080 patent families.