5 Ways Virtual Reality Will Affect eLearning

5 Ways Virtual Reality Will Affect eLearning

When you think of eLearning, chances are good you conjure up images of students taking online classes, or completing tests remotely. You might think about video conferencing as one of the most powerful tools to connect teachers and learners around the world, or maybe you’re more focused on gamification. All of those are true, but things are about to change. Virtual reality is set to have a huge impact on eLearning.

Replacing Field Trips

Field trips are used in all areas of education to help students get a better grasp on the material being covered, whether that’s modern art, architecture or archaeology. However, they have some problems, particularly in the eLearning sector. Here, field trips are generally limited to two-dimensional images shown on a computer screen. That’s far from immersive. Virtual reality will stand that on its head by providing the means for students of any age, from elementary to college to ongoing professional training to have in-depth, immersive experiences. It will enable eLearning to provide “hands-on” experiences in a way only imagined to this point.

Cultural Exploration

Sure, conventional eLearning technology can provide decent tools for cultural exploration. However, it’s more akin to reading a Wikipedia page than it is to actually experience that culture in a meaningful way. Students of all ages, from kindergartners to CEOs can benefit from a more personal experience of different cultures, and virtual reality will be able to do that in powerful ways. Imagine a CEO being able to virtually immerse herself in Japanese culture before flying across the Pacific to meet with her counterparts there. Imagine a high school student immersing himself in the culture of Africa’s Bedouins before taking a senior trip to the Dark Continent. The implications are immense.

Laboratory Simulations

Biology and chemistry can be difficult to teach with any hopes of good student retention. Students only remember 20% of what they’re told, and only 30% of what they’re shown. However, they remember 90% of what they do with their own hands. Virtual reality can be utilized in STEM topics like biology and chemistry, even anatomy, to provide students with a hands-on experience that improves the impact of teachers and professors by 100%. Imagine what this could do not just for high school students, but for med students and their understanding of the human body.

Exploring History

A group of Irish students recently used virtual reality to explore one of Ireland’s most historic sites (Clonmacnoise) as it is today (in ruins) and as it was in its heyday. When the class was done with the virtual reality aspect of it, they built a replica of the site using software. This allowed them to explore not only the history of their own nation, but to get personal with history, with architecture, and what ancient peoples were able to achieve with limited technology. This can be applied to almost any historic setting, from the ruins of ancient Greece and Rome to China and the Americas. It’s an incredible thing to think about.

Professional Training

Ongoing training is part and parcel of most positions these days, from working the cash register at the local big box store to customer service to IT. Most eLearning in professional situations is done on the computer through a series of static multiple choice tests. That’s definitely not engaging for learners, and virtual reality is going to change all that. Combine VR with gamification and you have something powerful and new – a way to immerse employees in scenarios that let them “play” out the role of their job and learn firsthand the results of their actions in ways that really make a difference to their professional lives.

Virtual reality might not be particularly widespread yet, but it’s coming, and you cannot afford to ignore the impact it will have on the eLearning world.

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