Written by Rae Steinbach, Freelance Editor at ymedialabs

From traditional books and computer desktops to tablets and interactive screens, technology has always made its way into education. In the next wave of digital disruption, Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) may begin to impact on how children learn and internalise their lessons.

What can we expect when AR and VR enter our schools? As organisations get involved with developing educational and interactive content, it will become clear that both technologies will have far more to offer than just games. In fact, the possible benefits to primary and secondary education are immense.

What are the benefits of AR and VR for education?

Technology continues to revolutionise education –  smart interactive whiteboards have already replaced the blackboards, and computers have come to be accepted as the norm in most classrooms. Technology’s role in the classroom is sure to grow, with AR and VR already filling gaps in the educational system.

Imagine a history lesson with a VR simulation instead of a dry paragraph of text? Capture the imagination of children as they eagerly await their chance to explore Henry VII’s Richmond Palace or jump onboard the First Fleet.

All of us have preferred ways of learning; some of us enjoy reading while others learn best with visuals, or performing physical activity in order to retain the information being presented. VR and AR engage a much wider range of students, allowing each one to learn in the ways that are most comfortable and meaningful to them.

 

What about the cost of this technology?

With the decline in funding to schools over the past decade and the cost of VR packages starting at around $300 for just a headset, it’s hard to believe schools will have the budget to supply the required AR/VR equipment. So what are some options for VR technology in schools?

  • Google Cardboard is less than $20
  • Expedition Kits for a whole class can be bought for less than $10,000

The many uses of AR and VR for education

VR has a world of applications for students:

  • VR enables students to  ‘visit’ almost any corner of the world and explore field trips in a different light
  • Science experiments requiring expensive or dangerous chemicals can be demonstrated through VR, reducing the risk of getting hurt
  • Geography lessons describing the destruction of the Great Barrier Reef can be shown with greater impact

That certainly doesn’t mean that VR should be used to replace ‘real life’ field trips, science experiments, or even verbal explanations of how our world is changing. However, the opportunity to supplement them with technological resources should not be overlooked.

VR isn’t the only technology that will enable children to learn and understand the world in newer and more memorable ways: AR has its place, too.

AR is already being used to help businesses understand and manipulate large amounts of data. The same could be done in classrooms, allowing children to step inside abstract maths concepts, understand equations and algebra, or manipulate complex geometric shapes. Math Alive is one developer already providing AR applications to schools.

Imagine biology lessons that allow students to peel away the skin of a body and discover all the parts beneath while the heart continues to pump blood through the veins. How about Design technology lessons in which students can create their own version of the tallest building in the world? AR has just as many distinct applications as VR, thanks to the ability users have to manipulate the objects presented to them through technology.

AR and VR are giving today’s children and future generations the opportunity to understand and learn in new and exciting ways that support a variety of learning styles. Expect to see this technology implemented in schools sooner than you think.

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If you’d like to explore how VR or AR can enhance education in our schools, harness the power VR or AR through our upcoming courses.

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