- Although educational methods cannot keep up with the developments in technology, the necessity of change is becoming more evident.
- As the gains of experiential learning are realized, virtual reality (VR) is adopted more easily.
- VR is making education less traditional and advancing K-12, higher education and vocational education.
Education is the foundation of a strong economy. It increases human capital, increases productivity and increases economic output.
Education paves the way for individuals to acquire new skills, develop critical thinking and analytical knowledge, contribute to economic well-being, develop a sense of purpose, and shape one’s career. Therefore, its impact on individuals, societies, governments and the world is undeniable. But the methods of educating people haven’t always kept up with technological advances. However, change is imminent and will come faster in the next decade.
In fact, advances have already been seen during the COVID-19 pandemic, when governments have had to close the doors of schools and universities around the world for weeks. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has supported the global education sector with digital tools, programs and resources to ensure continuity of learning. Other countries around the world have made available online training tools such as: Alef Education in UAE, school in KSA and MOE E-Learning In Egypt, to name a few.
While these solutions were crucial, they mostly focused on knowledge transfer rather than the practical and face-to-face experience students need to grasp concepts. After all, some learn through theory, while others learn through practice. The forward evolution of educational technology must therefore address experiential learning. Combined with innovative pedagogies, augmented reality, virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality are positioned to address this need and create a competitive advantage for all relevant stakeholders.
Advances in technology have permeated most industries and transformed them in administration or service delivery. However, transformation still needs more technological advances to disrupt education. It has become increasingly imperative for these developments to infiltrate education systems.
Disruption and innovation
The disruption we see in today’s digitized world is helping to increase accessibility, improve quality and improve the affordability of education globally. Presumably these interventions are sufficient to drive transformative change. Additionally, environmental pressures and COP26 targets (from the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference) will accelerate the digitization of educational streams in and out of the classroom and reduce reliance on textbooks, notebooks and pencils as critical learning tools, where appropriate and cost-effective. .
We need to adapt to an evolving landscape and nurture our younger generations to help us surpass our success. As schools and universities increasingly focus on personal development, some technologies can speed up the process. VR is a leading example and an undisputed game changer for the next generation of students, graduates and professional learners, enabling experiential learning.
It allows students to immerse themselves in an interactive experience where they can visualize the consequences of their actions firsthand. Combined with the Metaverse, students and teachers can communicate and share, overcoming space and time constraints. Finally, they can reinforce their previous knowledge and apply skills acquired through traditional e-learning.
Duration Research It has shown that VR positively impacts students’ learning outcomes and can improve student-teacher interactions through practical hybrid application in or outside the classroom. With VR as a classroom tool, teachers can motivate students and create a more collaborative and interactive work environment. VR can be integrated into traditional teaching to create a unique experience tailored to each student’s ability, style, pace and urge to learn, ensuring they are ready to progress through solid assessment.
Maximizing the impact of VR
VR supports stronger visualization, improves educational interaction, enhances collaboration, strengthens students’ practical understanding, and delivers globally. Research and development, as with any new technology, must coincide with unlocking maximum output and taking full advantage of its benefits.
It should be noted that VR somewhat limits human interaction and can cause isolation in younger generations if not properly watched and introduced with a guided program. Still, with proper research, development, and precautions, the benefits of VR outweigh its risks. VR is a technology that can transform graduates’ immediately recognizable skill sets with practical applications. Learning through play, first-hand experiences, and hands-on knowledge creates a more engaging environment for students and results in much stronger skills.
Educational technology through VR or other experiential learning tools is at a crossroads for leaders, educators, regulators and other stakeholders to take a proactive approach to investing in the next generation and managing the tide of change. We are starting to see these plans included in national transformation plans, even in emerging economies such as the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The UAE simulates the future with the recently opened Museum of the Future in Dubai, an architectural marvel.
The museum showcases an epic “Tomorrow Today” exhibition through augmented and virtual reality that visually demonstrates how technology is reshaping our future and how “Heroes of the Future” can learn and develop new skill sets through play.
As governments around the world compete to become more resourceful and invest in social infrastructure, technologies like VR are changing the situation and making education less traditional and advancing K-12, higher education and even vocational education. They are driven to improve results and develop a stronger, more qualified and experienced workforce. These are the forces of change and we believe now is the time to act.