In most of the countries in Europe, no virtual reality headsets are seen in classrooms. Most of the kids are still using the traditional pen and papers, and in countries like Belgium, some teachers still use overhead projectors, which is an invention from the 50s-60s… (cringe) And when some schools have implemented iPads learning, it’s most likely a private-school-for-rich-kids-only. (also cringe).
Why would we use it?
But what would be the benefits of such things in education? Because, it’s not only about innovating the way we learn, it’s also about the way we absorb information. To prove it, ask yourself the following questions:
Do you remember 3 algebra formulas from your mathematics class in high school? Probably not (except if you use math in your daily job) and you have likely forgotten all of them right after the test. But do you remember at least 3 events from your high school trip? Probably yes, and you could even describe those events with details. No rocket sciences are needed to understand that living experiences have a bigger impact on your memory rather than talking to yourself like a parrot for hours. The main issue in education is to raise the interest of the student. And that’s what AR does.
AR enables to create more interesting content thanks to highly visualized and involving devices. Students can interact with the device such as (example with video). At the end, AR increases knowledge retention. Particularly in fields such as mathematics or medicine where theoretical concepts can seem a bit abstract without images and examples. AR provides new solutions to better visualize in 3D, such as JigSpace’s virtual heart or geogebra’s virtual polyhedrons and functions.
How about out of school education?
This technology already helps museum visitors improving their experiences with, for example, the interactive immersion into a virtual forest in the “Story of the forest” from the National Museum of Singapore. You can also discover what skeletons looked like when they were alive at Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History “Skin and bones” exhibition, or discover the modern update of the Art Gallery of Ontario’s paintings.
So schools living in the past while museums are already using the future? Well, now I’ve heard it all.
One may argue that implementing new technologies is too costly for schools. For now, when speaking about virtual reality, public audience has the image of these expensive crazy immersive games where they kill zombies. When actually, all you need to experience augmented reality is a smartphone or a tablet. And knowing that the production value of the European VR & AR industry is expected to increase between €15 billion and €34 billion by 2020, kids and education should also enjoy the benefits from this growth.
How could it be helpful?
Imagine if teachers could take their kids to the epoch of Antic Greece and actually see a Gladiator’s fight or travelling to the 7 wonders while staying in the classroom. Kids would remember those sessions for a long time. That’s what everyone is talking about. Augmented Reality would help students to actually learn something and to remember it even after the test.
As the scholar Webster said, there is a difference between having information and being informed. With social media, we live in a generation where information overflows than ever before, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that we are becoming smarter. We should focus on the quality of the information rather than the quantity. What is the point of learning a 50-words list of Spanish vocabulary, if it’s only to remember “Hola, ¿como estas”?
Education needs to be refreshed and implementing augmented reality would be a big step.