Why would you watch a video, when you could don a headset and be transported right into the heart of the Jurassic Era? It is one thing to read about dinosaurs and another to be standing in scale, alongside one, with the ability to really understand the physics of motion and physiology of these giant creatures.
When a person is learning through the part of the brain which assimilates visual stimuli and processes that information, their ability to retain that information demonstrably improves. The importance of accommodating individual differences in learning style has long been recognized in educational psychology (Jonassen & Grabowski, 1993) and has been tested in a multimedia learning environment (Plass, Chun, Mayer, & Leutner, 1998). Mayer’s research has documented that well designed multimedia explanations can be highly effective in promoting students’ understanding, as indicated by their ability to generate acceptable answers to open-ended transfer questions (Mayer, 1997, 1999a, 1999c; Mayer & Moreno, 1998; Moreno & Mayer, 1999)
Do you want to be out on the Bonneville Salt Flats watching the land speed record be broken by the fastest vehicle on Earth? Perhaps you would like to see what it would look and feel like to be onboard? What better place for a lesson on aerodynamics, physics, design and other dynamic topics which could stem from virtual materials created in these types of environments? Virtual Reality will never take the place of reading and other forms of learning, but it most certainly has arrived as the newest and most poignant tool in the arsenal of teaching platforms.
Hubble takes us all over the universe, capturing visions of some of the most compelling galaxies, nebulaes, stars, planets, meteors, moons, comets, black holes and so much more. Imagine the Virtual Reality Experiences that will come in 2018 when the James Webb Space Telescope launches and starts returning the deepest space secrets to Earth. Corporations are now realizing the benefits of creating a training and teaching system that further stimulates the mind of the employee and allows that employee to associate the training with a unique and positive experience like none other. That is where Virtual Reality reigns.
When you are able to actually feel that you are in outer space, making the journey, first person, the retention of the details of the lesson are substantially increased. Teaching Algebra and Geometry as sequential lessons in the virtual task of planning, flying, and living a Mission to Mars over the course of a semester brings the math to life with vivid flare. With desire to learn Math and Science at an all time low in the U.S., the tide will turn when Math and Science are illuminated through this new visual vocabulary of VR.
Putting a direct correlation to a red dwarf, white star, binary stars and others is considerably easier, and much more fun when you are flying to them in virtual space, than reading about it in a book. Virtual Reality captures imagination and delivers on the promise when produced properly. Virtual Reality can just as easily take you into the subatomic world and make one feel as if they were shrunk down through an electron microscope. Bacteria feels monstrously present when you are confronting it at this scale. Some times it is most effective to get a very fresh perspective on things that seem so abstract, like bacteria, viruses and fungi. Here again is where the ability to be present among them in a very unique out of real life scale relationship wins the day.
The greatest aspect of Virtual Reality for Education is unquestionably, immersion. Bringing a student of any age to a unique environment in which they may learn as if they were present, first person, is a proven strategy that will only grow stronger with more case studies showing the paths to ever greater successes.
Sometimes that environment only need to be serene and tranquil to solve the requirement, other times the environment should be themed to the lesson.
Endangered species require our focus on a daily basis. Virtual Reality allows individuals to be close and personal with some of the world’s most compelling animals, fish, birds, reptiles, bacteria, fungi and insects. This new level of visual and spacial intimacy with other living beings is a very valuable opportunity for mankind to enhance the empathy levels for these species in the generations of humans coming forward.
Understanding of the world’s myriad of careers is a great platform for virtual reality. Students may surround themselves with the unique work environments of any possible career and try aspects of that work as a means of getting a deeper understanding of the positives and negatives of careers before they make the education choice, take the student loans out and discover years later that aspects of that career were not well suited for them.
The ability to train athletes in the virtual landscape is proving to be one of the most fruitful of the educational categories. Motion and spatial relationships are integral to the virtual learning experience. Many teams worldwide have adopted these practices to improve performance using virtual training technologies.