As the education develops and the new subjects like biotechnology, nanotechnology rises, the means with the education is provided are also changing. Virtual Reality Education is the new term that has been making waves in the education world. The virtual reality education uses the interactive virtual reality to teach the student the educational and vocational subjects. Virtual reality has also been named as the “final medium” because of its interactive features and unparalleled power to make the virtual experience real.
The education is changing at a huge rate. While the science is developing the new processes and products, the problem of imparting education has become more crucial. Education is needed to provide employment to the people and to give them the skill-set to further the process of discovery. In order to further the educational prospect the three things are needed: inspiration for the people to learn, the tools to allow the people to learn and develop new skills and a platform which allows global collaboration so that the knowledge can travel beyond the boundaries of countries and the continents.
Internet and computers have already changed the education system, and the next new reality in the process is virtual reality education. The example of difference can be seen in the schools and courses which have adopted this new method of education. Virtual reality education program involves the use of three dimensional virtual reality technologies to build a system. Virtual reality involves development of a three-dimensional or interactive computer generated simulations that the users can manipulate and be the part of. In short, virtual reality involves development of the product, processes and environment which makes the user feel that they are the part of the environment. Although virtual reality gives an image of gaming or a multimedia platform, the virtual reality actually goes beyond these entertainment plans. The virtual reality is being applied in many other fields including the sports, engineering, architecture and the arts.
Benefits of Virtual Reality Education
Virtual reality is especially helpful in education as not only it helps in providing the hands-on training kind of experience, but also ensures the higher engagement level of the students.
Virtual reality education can enhance the educational experience with different programs and features. Following are the major advantages which make virtual reality education programs beneficial for the students:
- Bridging the gap between the education and reality: The first and the foremost advantage of the virtual reality education is that it can help in bridging the gap between the education and reality. The students today face the problem that they are not able to relate the education gained with the real life. The virtual reality education can be used to fill this feeling of disconnect by allowing the students to learn how to use the concepts learned in the real life.
- Hands-on experience for training and skill-set development: This is another method which is highly useful for engineers, architectures, army recruits etc. Virtual reality education brings them closer to the equipment that is not the part of daily life. Virtual reality education allows them to delve deeper into the equipments, machineries and the processes and understand them better. This provides them with the much needed hands-on experience and skill-set for the process. Moreover, the training provided through this system is much better.
- Motivational and interesting: Another advantage of using virtual reality education is its motivational and interesting features. Many of the students find the regular education programs uninteresting. Virtual reality education adds the spice to the routine education making it better and interesting. Many of the students have complained in the past they found regular academic routine boring. Also, the students who are not comfortable with people or are shy are unable to ask the questions. Virtual reality is the big help for such students as along with studying, it allows them to interact with the environment.
- Makes the inaccessible accessible: There are many locations where regular education is inaccessible because of remoteness of the place or unavailability of the teachers. Also there are some courses where hands-on training material is not available. Virtual reality education makes the inaccessible education accessible in such cases.
- Highly beneficial in countries like Africa where literacy rate is much lower: There are countries where the literacy rate is lower. In such cases, virtual reality education is advantageous as it allows the people to learn via visual depiction of the process. In the countries like Africa, where the literacy rate is not sufficient, the virtual reality education can be used well to develop the programs to teach the vocational skills to the people of the country.
- Global Collaboration: Virtual reality education allows the educators across the world to collaborate and develop an education program which has benefits of all the countries. Unlike traditional programs, the virtual reality education can be collaborated across the different countries of the world, making it a truly global phenomenon.
- Development of the special needs program: Virtual reality education can also prove especially beneficial for the students with the special need. With the help of the virtual reality, the special educational curriculum and lessons can be tailored which can then be utilized to educate the students with special needs.
- Equipment of students with latest technology: Virtual reality programs also help the students to learn about the latest and upcoming three dimensional technologies. This is especially true for engineering students who are going to give the newest and the latest inventions to the world. Studying virtual reality education programs acquaints them with the much needed skill for future jobs.
- Professional experience: The virtual reality programs helps the students learn the process of presenting the facts and details in an engaging manner. This helps the student in the future course of education and jobs.
- Opening of imagination and designs: The past research and history of VR in universities reveal that it helps in making the students more creative and imaginative. For example, if there is a competition to build a car in university, it is impossible to test and check all the ideas submitted by the students in real world. But virtual reality makes it possible for the students to test their designs and open up their mind and imagination accordingly.
Limitations of Virtual Reality Education
As seen above, there indeed are numerous advantages of using virtual reality education programs. And many of the universities have established these programs as well. But the programs, despite their numerous advantages, are not quite famous yet. This can be contributed to the following limitations of virtual reality:
- Underdeveloped Technology: The virtual reality technology is still underdeveloped. The virtual reality programs feel like that a person is watching cartoons. A lot of research is needed before it can be fully combined with the traditional educational tools and channels.
- Resistance to change: Unlike all other processes, there is a strong resistance to change across the globe regarding the virtual reality education The reason for it from parents’ point of view lies in the popularity of virtual reality as the gaming media, rather than the educational platform. Similarly even teachers are resisting the technology because of the fear of losing their regular jobs.
- High initial cost: Currently virtual reality education programs cost quite high. This has made it difficult for many schools to adopt it. Since it is still a budding technology which cost very high, the schools and colleges are not ready to invest highly in the program.
- Absence of internet: Most of the virtual reality programs developed is based online. This means that the students and the school need huge bandwidth to access these programs. Moreover not all the places have the access of the internet to utilize these programs fully. This lack of infrastructure adds on to the problems being faced in adoption of the virtual reality education.
- Lack of Awareness: Although virtual reality has gained a lot of hype, most of it is because of the gaming technology or the entertainment technology. Education industry has not yet fully embraced it. The programs are still being developed for the technology. Moreover, even the parents and teachers are unaware of the potential benefits of the system. This lack of awareness has been a serious deterrent to the adoption of virtual reality programs.
Virtual reality has come a long way since it started. The future of education and entertainment lies in the virtual reality programs. The days are not far off when virtual reality will become a regular feature of the educational programs. What is needed is few more technological tweaks and leaps along with the increased awareness about these programs and its benefits. Be it the regular training or specialized simulator based training, virtual reality education can help the student learn the nuances of the education without getting bored in the process.