Imagine students experiencing what it’s like to hold a beating heart in their hands or travelling to distant countries or being present at the molecular level of cells in the human body or and walk among the planets in the solar system—without leaving the classroom!
This is virtual reality – an interactive digital environment, which is slowly creeping into the education world, whether as a tool for training new teachers, an effective teaching method or addition in excitement to student learning.
Virtual reality marks the beginning of a new relationship that humans have with technology, one where we participate in the digital world rather than passively experience it.
Virtual reality is an immersive and interactive experience based on graphic images in 3D generated in real time by computer. In other words, it is a simulation generated by a computer, about a real or just an imaginary world.
Virtual reality requires interaction and encourages active participation rather than passivity. It provides new forms and methods of visualization, drawing on the strengths of visual representations. It provides an alternate method for presentation of material.
Virtual reality allows students to proceed through an experience at their own pace. It allows the disabled to participate in an experiment or learning environment when they cannot do so otherwise. In fact, virtual reality changes the way we learn, teach, and communicate. The learners are engaged during the lessons because there are no outside distractions as this technology is immersive in nature, inspires creative learning, and promotes curiosity.
Students can learn about a subject by living it. It’s easy to forget that virtual reality experiences are not real — a body actually believes it’s in a new place. This feeling engages the mind in a way that is remarkable.
The future of virtual reality in education is very exciting and full of potential. However, designing for virtual reality for teaching and learning is full of challenges that we need to fully prepared to overcome.