Are there any disadvantages of virtual reality in education?

Over the past 10 years, the educational landscape has changed drastically. We have learnt to embrace new technologies in a way where they enrich a learner’s ability to retain information. The next step is to start involving immersive technology within the learning environment. But a question that is asked a lot is “what are the disadvantages of virtual reality in education”.

 

What is VR?

When we talk about virtual reality (VR), we are talking about fully immersive environments that users can interact with. Other companies categorise 360 videos under VR, however, it is hard to build 360 videos where you can interact with the environment. Virtual Reality also requires the use of a headset that a user needs to wear in order to enter the virtual environment.

The typical VR experience we build at ATD allows you to walk around the environment be that through using the point and click function or by actually physically walking around.

This makes VR the perfect tool to create virtual field trips, 3D design, teaching anatomy where students can interact with an interactive display. The potential applications of VR are endless and can be used to overcome some common issues in the learning environment.

VR shouldn’t be confused with other technologies like Augmented Reality (AR) where 3D objects are projected into the real world. If you want to learn a little more about AR, take a look at our AR article.

 

 

 

At a quick glance, what are the pros and cons to VR?

There are loads of benefits to using VR in the classroom. We will dive a little deeper into most of them below but let’s start with the basic pros and cons of VR.

Pros:

  1. Boosts interest around a subject
  2. Provides amazing visualisations of environments that are otherwise impossible in the real world
  3. Increases engagement
  4. Fun for the learner (as well as the teacher)
  5. Proven to improve quality of education and knowledge retention
  6. Can be created in multiple languages and eliminates language barriers

 

Cons:

  1. Can lack flexibility in the learning environment. However, his can be combated in the way we create the VR experience
  2. Reduces connections with humans.
  3. Can be expensive, although the cost of equipment is becoming much more affordable as companies invest in advancements in the technology

From this list the benefits of using VR in a learning environment clearly out weight the negatives. All of the negative points can be addressed easily.

 

How will virtual reality change education?

People consume information differently now to how it was consumed say 20 years ago. Information is made available at the tap of a button and is served within seconds (or less). In fact, Google released a study that concluded that 80% of people will leave a website if they are not served the correct information within 3 seconds. This trickles down to how we need to structure education. With shorter attention spans, we need to develop learning techniques that counter this and will keep students engaged for longer.

This where using immersive environments, like virtual reality, can help improve a learner’s experience and enable them to retain more information. By fully submersing a person in an environment will boost the ability to grasp a subject. This is accentuated for subjects that require physical learning environments that would be impossible to recreate in real life.

With headsets becoming more affordable, we are starting to see more and more schools, colleges, universities and training providers integrating VR into the learning environment. This can only be a good thing for developing skills and allowing students to experience subjects in more depth.

 

Should virtual reality be used in education?

Without a doubt. It’s a technology that opens so many doors and possibilities. It allows students to fully immerse themselves in a subject without distractions. It is also a great tool for taking any risk out of training environments. A good example of this would be the use of VR in training at heights. We can simulate the environment of working hundreds of feet in air and all the feelings that are associated with working at that height. However, the student always remains safely on the ground. It eliminates all the risks and danger.

 

Is virtual reality safe?

Yes. VR is totally safe and can be a great solution to offering training around subjects that come with risk. With VR, you can allow students to experience science experiments with all the risk removed.

VR equipment manufacturers are also pushing the bounds of what their equipment can do. With advancements in headset lenses, VR sickness is becoming a thing of the past. Headsets can easily be adjusted to each user eliminating any dizzy feeling once you take the headset off.

 

So, what are the disadvantages of virtual reality in education?

There are a few disadvantages to using VR in educations, however, we feel that the benefits far outweigh the negatives. VR allows students to have a much deeper understanding of subjects. It is also becoming more cost effective to build VR environments that reduce health and safety risks.

Some thought leaders are worried that VR will devalue the importance of human connections. If we were to replace every single interaction with VR then this would be a concern. However, we would only recommend implementing VR for subjects that either carry a risk or would be impossible to recreate in real life. It is very difficult to recreate science lessons where you are teaching 12 year old’s about what lies beneath the ocean or trying to visualise atoms. VR can be a great aid in visualising these subjects allowing the students to experience what deep sea diving would be like, or how an atom looks and works up close.

Are you looking at how virtual reality can benefit your students? Get in touch to have a chat about the possibilities open to you.

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