April 2, 2018
Journal Entry #7- Will Virtual Reality Provide Deeper Learning?
There is a recent article I found where the author discusses Virtual Reality in relation to meaningful learning. Virtual Reality (VR) is a new type of technology that allows students to experience another place without having to leave the classroom. VR simulations are offering students a new experience, that before technology they might not have been able to do. It allows them to see places from all over the world, or view things people could only dream about. But with all of its great advancements and interest, will virtual reality provide deeper learning?
In the article written by Holly Korby, she Immediately comments on concerns with using VR learning in school. One concern is that VR is just a replacement. It is a translational tool that is not actually adding any value to the learning. VR is constantly changing, but as of right now it is being used to show students experiences, in the same way educational movies do. VR simulations are being used to transport students to a new place without having to leave the classroom. This type of learning is replacing field trips and other hands-on learning experiences that can offer students deeper learning. Another concern is cost. In order to work with VR, there are typically many pieces: there are headsets and gloves that can cost hundreds of dollars. Korby (2017) states, “while cheaper versions exist—such as the $15 Google Cardboard, which attaches to a smartphone—these versions often don’t provide the same quality of experience.” Now grant it, this equipment is still more cost effective than transporting a whole class of students across the globe, and it comes with less concerns from parents and administration. But if the equipment is so expensive, how are students in lower-income school suppose get this experience. With the price tag, students who can afford to travel anyways are probably the ones who can afford the VR equipment.
But even with some cons, VR learning does provide students with a deeper understanding in new and meaningful ways. Virtual Reality learning is sparking a conversation and inquiries in students that videos and films do not. These inquiries are what drives inventors to change the way VR learning is being used in schools. In the article, Korby discusses different ways this type of learning is being used.
VR technology is being used in schools both for academic and social purposes. In science classes, students are working with 3D models of organs and cells that are actually functioning. Students are able to see human hearts and what they look like when they are pumping blood to the rest of the body. In other areas, students are able to take virtual college campus tours without leaving their bed. Websites such as CampusTours and YouVisit allow students to take full college tours right from their homes. This is a more cost and time effective ways that also helps students realize how many options they truly have when applying to colleges. Through other VR experiences, students are able to see what life is like for people in other situations. Global Nomads and Embodied Labs are two programs that allow people to experience what life is like for children living in other countries or for adults as they get older and are aging with certain diseases. Both of these experiences gives people perspectives and understandings that they would not otherwise get unless they were experiencing themselves.
Virtual Reality Learning, like other technologies, uses a screen. But just because it is access through a screen, does not mean it should be treated as just a screen. With the right experiences and programs, VR learning can provide experiences that cannot be taught through textbooks. Can VR learning completely replace hands-on learning experiences? I do not think so. But if hands-on experiences are not available as the first option, VR learning is an excellent 2nd option. Virtual Reality Learning needs to be given time to be explored and to grow so that is can continue provide deeper learning to students.
Korby, H. (2017, July 4). Will Virtual Reality Drive Deeper Learning? Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/article/virtual-reality-drive-deeper-learning-holly-korbey