Friday, October 14, 2016

Does virtual reality really have a place in education?

I've recently had a few opportunities to work with some colleagues who are trying to infuse VR components into their curriculum.  For me, watching people experience VR is hugely motivating.  I love seeing kids engage in a lesson that they otherwise wouldn't because VR gives them a different mode of experiencing the content than the traditional methods.

The goal isn't to recreate reality but to create brief opportunities to escape it.

Particularly in a school setting, virtual reality allows kids a chance to focus in on what they are learning and can help pull them away from some of the distractions in their everyday lives.  It sounds almost counterintuitive but the distraction of VR somehow allows kids to focus more.

Is VR a gimmick?

I feel like the same could be said about almost every new "technology" that has ever been developed in the history of humankind.  I'm sure that there will always be a certain amount of resistance to doing things in new ways.  However, I do find it interesting that kids don't ever seem deterred by that more adult thought process.  For kids, virtual reality is just a reality--another way of connecting to technology and something to be explored.

In each and every opportunity I've had to work with kids using VR in an educational setting, I'm reminded of the place that VR has in education.  It has the power to excite, the power to engage, and the power to transport.  VR is one of the technologies on the cutting edge of innovation and creativity, exactly what we aim to inspire in our students.