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Are VR & AR the future of remote education?

Remote education is the new norm, globally. However, it is far from perfect. Many reports suggest a need for better student engagement in this online-teaching model. Are immersive technologies the right solution for making education more engaging?

Recently, IIT-Bombay’s convocation ceremony was streamed and telecasted.

Now, what’s so different about this one? Well, it’s a virtual convocation that was both engaging and personalized. How did they make that happen? They’ve used Virtual Reality technology to make that event possible. All the awardees and presenters had their personalized VR avatars, making the students feel that they were personally receiving their degrees.
A VR image of a student receiving his medal at IIT-Bombay’s 2020 graduation ceremony
Image Source: AnalyticsIndiaMag

Why not apply the same technology in the educational sector to make remote learning much more fun? We’ve been reading a lot more about the applications of Augmented Reality(AR) and Virtual Reality(VR) technology in the last few months. A report by markets and markets suggests that the augmented and virtual reality technology in the educational sector is growing at a Compounded Annual Growth Rate(CAGR) of 16.2% between 2018 and 2023, and is projected to have a market size of $19.6 billion by 2023. Has this technology crossed past the early-adoption phase? Significantly, can this technology be implemented at scale, and thus improve engagement in virtual education?

Child enjoying VR content
Image Credits: arpost.co

VR in Education:

Virtual Reality(VR), also called 3D stereography, is a technology that creates and emulates an artificial environment that is similar to the real world. It is made possible by a tool called VR headset, which, when worn, helps an individual experience the virtual environment.

Imagine a student being able to go on an educational trip to a museum virtually and see things taught to them theoretically. How engaging would that be? It also helps students memorize the content for a longer time. There are many other use cases of VR, which will improve student engagement rates in remote learning.

There are scientific studies that have proven that students learn better with VR technology than using traditional teaching methodologies.

AR in Education:

Augmented Reality(AR) adds virtual elements or objects to the real world and makes us see a slightly different place. Think of it as staying at your home and being able to click a picture with Thor. The most talked-about application of AR is the Pokemon Go game, which uses the smartphone app and its camera to add virtual objects to the gameplay.

There are plenty of AR use cases in the educational sector. From being able to attend remote classes and yet feel like being in a classroom, simulation exercises that make students think they’re practically learning, AR can provide both personalized and engaging learning for the students. We know many high-school and college students who are missing their practical sessions because of this remote learning. In such instances, AR simulation exercises could be the best alternative, letting them freely experiment.

Mixed Reality:

Here’s where things get interesting. Mixed Reality, also known as immersive technology, combines AR and VR to create content that has objects both from the real and virtual worlds. If schools can create content that makes use of Mixed Reality advancements, it creates a unique learning experience for students. Big Tech companies are still working in this space to develop tools that make content creation for MR tech easy.

Benefits of introducing AR/VR in education:

  • Improves the educational experience for specially-abled students.

  • Facilitates learning by doing.

  • Improves the overall student engagement with education.

Challenges for widespread adoption of AR/VR:

  • A high cost of implementation.

  • Content that is available for use with these technologies is limited.

  • Impact of these tools on the mental and physical health of users.

To conclude, we certainly believe that the widespread adoption of AR/VR technologies in the education sector may increase the engagement levels of students and could also better evaluate student’s knowledge through simulation activities. For instance, aircraft pilot training and medical training, and many other complex training activities could be simplified through virtual simulations.

However, there are many challenges to be addressed before we see this become a reality. Firstly, there is already a digital equity issue in most developing countries in which not many students have the resources/devices to take part in this virtual education. At this point, very few educational institutes and students will be able to use the technology. Also, the content needs development that makes use of this technology. When the cost of technology comes down, and content for consumption is available, we believe numerous educational institutions will start implementing these technologies as part of their curriculum.

We’d like to know your views on what factors you think would increase the adoption of these technologies in educational institutes. Please write to us at social@91social.com for more information on this.

This post is originally published on our Medium account.