Throughout centuries, humanity was inspired and fascinated by the power of knowledge and, thus, craved education. As humanity and the world were evolving, so was the sphere of education. It was getting increasingly advanced, flexible, and, at the same time, more accessible. And then, technological progress burst in. Due to it, we have reached what seemed to be the peak of progress in the industry of education. But innovations didn’t stop there.
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At this point, it is neither new nor rare to us to see classrooms filled with tech, students ordering papers online from paper writing services, or entire schools shift to the online format during the global pandemic. These and many other innovations have deeply rooted in education, but we can’t deny that more is yet to come. Now, we are only stepping into a whole new era of education where VR and AR will be ruling. What are these technologies, and what potential do they have in the sphere of education? Read on to learn more!
What Are VR and AR, and How Are They Different?
Virtual reality (VR) is a technology that provides a unique, immersive experience that can mimic real-world environments or create a completely imagined one. The VR experience is being delivered to the users with the help of VR devices (i.e., VR headsets). It implies a certain level of interaction between a user and the virtual world.
To help you grasp the concept better, imagine wearing a headset and taking a field trip to Mars during which you are almost literally on Mars, though not leaving your living room. You can look around and see all the landscapes as clearly as if you were really there. And this is something you can already do with the help of VR!
Augmented reality (or AR) shouldn’t be confused with VR. In a nutshell, AR is a technology that blends objects from the virtual world into the real-world environment (often via the camera on your smartphone). A worldwide famous game Pokemon Go where users can hunt virtual pokemons in the real world is a great example of the use of AR. Snapchat and Instagram masks are two more examples of it.
Based on the general definitions, you can see a significant difference between VR and AR. The first one takes you directly into the virtual world, whereas the last one puts virtual objects into your world and lets you interact with them. Apart from AR and VR, there are such concepts as MR (mixed reality) and XR (extended reality), which are a combination of VR and AR.
The Future of VR & AR in Education
It is fair to say that both VR and AR are already making their way into the sphere of education as we can see multiple uses of these technologies for learning purposes. But what is yet to come?
1. Hands-On Learning
It’s predicted that future learning will pay less attention to theoretical knowledge. Instead, it will focus on hands-on experiences, and this is one point where AR and VR become a solution. These technologies can help put students into different environments and situations to help them acquire knowledge and experience firsthand.
In fact, this is already happening – some apps allow students to perform virtual surgeries or travel to ancient civilizations, but we expect it to reach a larger scale in the future.
2. AI, VR, and AR to Define the Curricula
While VR and AR can create the right virtual simulations and experiences to match students’ needs, combining these technologies with the power of AI will help us produce innovative curricula and lesson plans with almost no human intervention.
3. Better Engagement = Better Results
Although we all understand the importance of education, not many of us actually find learning a pleasant and engaging process. However, this is about to change in the future. Technology in the classroom boosts students’ engagement on its own, but VR and AR, thanks to their immersive nature and interactivity, are expected to go even further.
After all, according to studies, 97% of students confirm that they would gladly attend lessons/courses/classes that imply the use of VR or AR. Respectively, higher engagement will also increase students’ overall academic performance.
The Bottom Line
According to the stats, over $18 billion was invested worldwide into AR and VR technologies in 2020, and this number will keep growing. Experts predict that we will see a 77% compound annual growth rate of the global VR & AR market from 2019 to 2023.
The reason why so much is being invested in these technologies is that they have enormous potential in many spheres, including medicine, business, and education. Considering all the opportunities VR and AR offer in terms of education, it is possible that very soon, every student around the world will be able to acquire knowledge and hands-on experience without leaving the classroom or even home, and this is as exciting as it can be!