Learning and Technology
Learning and technology have gone hand in hand for the last century, and nowadays the intertwinement of these two is closer than ever. With younger generations growing up in a world saturated by technology and the internet, as well as the ever-increasing presence of these things in our work lives, it is becoming more and more clear that current and upcoming technological advances must be incorporated into the modern learning experience. Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) are both exceptional tools that we have at our disposal but are vastly underutilized despite their effectiveness in assisting learners.
AR and VR technology offer a wide array of advantages in their use, with one of the most prominent being the ability to help students visualize three-dimensional concepts or objects without needing any physical objects. Imagine a younger student using AR to visualize the volumes of different shapes, directly able to see how they compare to each other by virtually pouring a cube full of water into a sphere, and the enjoyment they feel by seeing how those shapes compare without the need for them to actually pour water all over a classroom. Or think of a medical student using VR to get a more expansive and in-depth look at a medical procedure than any textbook could ever hope to offer; the student able to play and pause to a procedure at any time and move to reexamine it from another angle, or virtually decrease their size to get a much closer look than they would be able to see in the real world. The hurdle of an idea going from an abstract concept into a solid understanding within the mind of the student is often the greatest difficulty of learning, and this technology does an amazing job assisting students in getting over that hurdle. Similarly to how the act of writing down notes works to ensure that the mind is actively listening to lectures or the like, the physical action taken within VR or AR assisted classes would also promote active listening and mental engagement with the material.
While programs such as Zoom or Skype that allow for learning to take place live from a distance also exist outside of VR, it is much more difficult for instructors to judge how well the students are responding to the material, and also far more difficult for students and even the educators to pay attention for prolonged amounts of time. Students and educators often have to expend a lot of additional mental energy to stay focused in Zoom-like environments. It is difficult for the brain to overcome the distractions of other students’ cameras to focus on the educator, and lack or diminishment of other ways of communication such as body language, gestures, expressions and even tone of voice, cause users of video conferencing software to need to work much harder to focus than they typically would in an in-person setting.
Another incredible ability of VR-integrated learning is that it can put educators and students in the same room, even if they are learning from a distance. By making use of virtual worlds, institutions can create spaces for students to go to experience a virtual classroom, see other students and the educator, and interact directly with one another even from across the globe. This fixes many of the problems that video conferencing software has, as it enables students to feel as though they are actually in proximity with other people, and the use of motion tracking allows for hand gestures and body language to come across more clearly. It also allows us to emulate eye contact, which is something that is sorely lacking for traditional video call lectures and does leaps and bounds towards the engagement of both student and educator.
With the rise of distance learning further magnified by the global pandemic, and video conferencing software proving inadequate compared to in-person classes, the swift and broad utilization of VR technology is the next step in the evolution of this field. This is where we come in. At Infusion Edutainment, we believe in the use of newer technology for educational purposes. We know that student engagement increases when the student is also entertained, which in turn increases their rate of retention. Studies have proven that the gamification of learning can have greatly positive impacts on learning, as we discussed in our blog post "Redifining Language Learning Through Virtual Reality".