It’s no secret that VR is going to play a big role in education in the next 5 years, the learning potential provided by the technology could be huge and even Palmer Luckey and Google agree with how much of an impact it could have in this sector.
A recent report published by Research and Markets states that the use of smart wearable technology should grow by around 45.52 percent by 2020. However this doesn’t just mean an increase in head mounted displays (like the oculus rift or HTC vive) but includes all head mounted devices and any other form of worn tech. This could include anything from fitness trackers, to smart glasses and watches alongside VR headsets.
The technology has the capability to take students to new worlds without having to leave the classroom, increasing students engagements and concentration. Google revealed a new app called Google Expeditions, at their I/O developers conference last year, which is designed to let teachers take students on virtual field trips. Students are much more likely to be interested in a topic when they’re fully immersed in it. A topic like space or the ocean will be more captivating in full 360 video than it ever could be from reading about it in a text book. It also provides a new experience using technology that is currently available to everyone. Most children have access to smart phones that can be loaded into a google cardboard device (which costs under £5). Teachers can control a virtual field trip in Google Expeditions via an app on a tablet whilst up to 50 students can view it using their cardboard headsets. Teachers can talk their students through everything they will see as well as bring up notes for them to read from.
Google has started a pioneer program in several countries and will be reporting more about how successful the project has been at this years developers conference which is only a matter of weeks away.
I’m sure we can expect more developments in the education sector from some of the other major players in the VR game. The extra functionality of their headsets with positional tracking features should only enhance learning experiences further. Although we will have to wait until the technology becomes cheaper, as I can’t see education boards paying out a minimum of £500 a headset. Also unless the state of their I.T departments and computers have drastically improved since my school days, then you won’t be able to power these type of devices just yet. I think it’s likely that educational VR will take the form of smartphone powered headsets for the foreseeable future.
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