Not too long ago, a virtual reality headset could cost around $5,000. Over time, prices have fortunately come down and are more like $500. Augmented reality technology required less cost, but was still not very accessible for classrooms. Today, the marriage between virtual reality (VR) and pedagogy is seen more and more often, especially in higher education. Businesses are booming and provide solutions to make learning more inclusive.
But what to offer students? Because even though the price has dropped, the fact remains that virtual reality requires a significant investment. A school is not an arcade. Even if playful approaches can be used in the classroom, they must be anchored in pedagogical objectives. So how do you integrate a VR headset into a training?
Reproduce real life
When we look at the current use of virtual reality in pedagogy, it seems that much of the writing involves the reproduction of real situations in a virtual context. Because if VR technology does not produce almost ultra-realistic graphics of contemporary video games, it still allows immersion through its device. The brain is fooled by the fact that no matter where it looks or turns, it remains in the simulation.
Thus, medical programs and nursing are increasingly inclined to integrate virtual reality activities into the course. Because immersive technological solutions reproduce as much as possible the gestures they will perform and add “actors” such as patients, their families, other staff members, etc. Therefore it is possible portray real dangerous situations they can come across… without dramatic consequences in the event of a mistake. Teachers and other classmates can observe what happened and provide feedback.
While the medical community benefits from this technology, various sectors rely on it professional training specific and demanding tact. The nuclear industry pushes to use these “pseudo-real” contexts. with future workers who, for example, will have to change a seal in the heart of a nuclear reactor. They can practice what they have learned in lectures without risking their health or that of an entire region in the event of an accident in the simulation.
In another context that is less risky but requires just as much precision, future collectors now they can learn to use the machines to pick the grapes. A method to ensure that precious fruit is not lost during harvest. In addition, the use of this type of technology is attracting a little more talent in this field.
pass the mirror
What seems clear in the multiplicity of uses of VR in the educational world is that its role in an educational scenario is that of the transition to the concrete. Thus, if the “adventurers” (students) are given prior knowledge by their mentor (teacher), virtual reality is the moment when they step through the magic mirror and find themselves in front of what their guide told them.
- Do you have a portrait from ancient Rome? Travel there, walk the streets and talk to the locals of the time.
- chemical molecules are presented to you, so dive into the infinitesimals and manipulate them. Play with the atoms, try to connect them, watch the reactions.
- Have you read theoretical texts about homelessness, domestic violence or workplace harassment? now, put yourself in your shoes of those who experience this situation on a daily basis to understand the social mechanisms involved.
This is the beauty of virtual reality: there are practically no limits. Especially since the device makes it even easier to access fun mechanics that are attractive to many students.
Step by step, serious gaming in VR are offered in different contexts. As remembered this memory, it is increasingly easy to obtain metrics and indicators to assess a learner’s understanding in a virtual context. While educational research is in its infancy in integrating virtual or augmented reality into the classroom, interest is growing.
In Quebec, an action research program on the use of these technologies in postsecondary science learning is underway and is expected to release its report by August 1, 2023. It will be interesting to see what comes of the researchers’ work.
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