Until recently, the best way to see the Eiffel Tower or explore the Sahara, was to physically go there or watch a documentary. Now that technological breakthroughs are being made every day, there are bold leaders who are applying them to different fields, notably education. The arrival of virtual reality into teaching may see traditional classroom lessons morph into experiences.
Using virtual reality in a lesson would require a headset and a data glove for a fully immersive experience. It also features a tracking system to record and analyze students’ behavior in the virtual world. Each movement changes the perception and adds value to the experience. This way, students who may not have the ability to travel to all these places, can have the opportunity of exploring the Vatican City or the Tate Gallery in London without the expense and time it would take to get there. The students can also touch and manipulate the objects they see. Asked whether they would buy a Gear VR headset, 73 percent of the US teenagers said yes. All said and done, this is not supposed to be a complete substitute for real experiences, and it is not intended to replace some traditional classroom methods, but rather be an enhancement to them.
Analysts expect the virtual reality market to grow at a very fast rate in upcoming years. In addition, HTC, one of the leading manufacturers of VR devices announced it sold 15,000 Vive products in its first ten minutes on sale.
Samsung, another tech giant producing VR devices, sold 300,000 of its Gear VR units in Europe last year. According to a recent estimate, the revenue from virtual reality products is expected to reach $5.2 billion in 2018.
The innovative idea of actively using virtual reality in classrooms comes at a time when US schools and the educational system as a whole, are re-designing their classroom spaces for more focused, hands-on learning to prepare the next bold generation of technology-savvy professionals.