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Virtual Reality: The Next Logical Step for Education

We’ve seen the traditional education model and current trends in education. Without a doubt, modern technology integrated with education has caused disruption in education for the benefit of knowledge seekers. Although they might not receive college credit, there are free platforms available online to anyone wanting to learn, such as Coursera. Anyone that wants clarification in a certain topic can watch a tutorial video online on Khan Academy for free. All these materials are readily accessible to anyone with an internet connection.

We have managed to fit hefty textbooks and learning materials into a portable device, whether on a laptop, tablet, or smartphone. With all this knowledge available at the palm of your hands, the next step is applying that knowledge to the world, which is where virtual reality triumphantly comes in. In our early educational years, we learn about animals, so we take a field trip to a farm. Then we learn about Native Americans, so we learn about pueblos and teepees. We move on to Shakespeare and the Globe Theatre, World War II and the Berlin Wall. We learn about the struggles not only in the Middle East, but all around the world. Maybe we take an engineering class and want to observe the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. Geography, travel costs, safety, and liability are only some of the factors that limit one from observing all these interesting locations, scattered across the world.

Virtual reality eliminates all of these barriers from education and wonder. Whether you want to see the Pyramids at Giza or the canals of Venice, Italy, it can all be available to one in the comfort of a classroom, bedroom, or wherever one pleases. If you’re feeling nostalgic and want to visit your childhood neighborhood or you want to learn about where your ancestors come from, it’s all possible. The possibilities with virtual reality are limitless, not just limited to a new kind of gaming experience. Google has acknowledged this and is working on making these virtual experiences affordable and accessible. With its Expeditions Pioneer program, Google is making these virtual field trips available for free for schools, starting in the United States, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and Brazil. The program includes giving schools Google’s basic Cardboard virtual reality headset and smartphones to use with the headsets. Whether a school is well-funded or underfunded, students can all have the same kind of access. If you’re not a student but still want to have these virtual experiences, Google’s Cardboard is still extremely affordable for $25 or even cheaper. It’s hard to put a price on an unlimited supply of experiences, but it’s safe to say that $25 is well beneath that price.

Virtual reality may seems like an abstract platform for education, but it is exactly what we need to supplement our evolving education system. If we can access the classroom and educational materials from virtually anywhere, why not access the world from anywhere too?

The Traditional Education Model

           Traditionally, a student will come into school, listen to the teacher, work on their assignment, and repeat that process until the bell rings and the school day is over. Teachers set the curriculum, students memorize and regurgitate the assigned information, and then shortly thereafter forget about it when they don’t need it anymore. If a student asks the teacher a question, it’s usually because they didn’t get it the first time around, not because they are curious about the topic and want to learn more. For the daily classwork and homework assignments, students just complete their work, turn it in, and repeat. A student’s intelligence will be measured by how well they can simply memorize some material and then translate that onto paper for a test. For the daily classwork and homework assignments, students just complete their work, turn it in, and repeat. It turns into a unexciting, monotonous cycle and students are left uninterested. In the past few decades, we’ve seen a disruption in the traditional education model through the use of computers. By being able to shrink the classroom into a portable device, computers have helped students engage in their work and interests in a limitless amount of places outside the classroom. Computers have breathed a new life into the traditional education model.