Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) have unlocked incredible possibilities in education – bringing tomorrow’s technology into today’s learning. The influence of AR and VR technology can be felt far beyond the classroom, extending into our homes and beyond! They are changing how the world is viewed – literally. Using VR, users can fly around Earth.
Naturally, this begs the question: what are augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR)? To put it simply, AR overlays digital elements or information on top of real-life images. Augmented reality projects images over what the user looks at. Conversely, virtual reality (VR) is a completely immersive experience for the user – blocking out the entire physical world. This technology transports users into seemingly real environments.
Below are a few examples of the innovative ways AR and VR are transforming learning in the classroom, at home, and everywhere in between.
Educators are always searching for more effective teaching methods to provide the most impactful lessons possible. Strategies also have to account for students with various learning abilities; for example, 1 in every 10 students under the age of seventeen suffers from some level of attention deficit hyperactive disorder. Technology is one way to provide a more catered learning experience inside of the classroom to keep students engaged and learning. Innovations such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are being incorporated to enhance teaching. Following major investments by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs, teachers are now equipped to provide students with an immersive education, built around the use of AR and VR.
Leveraging such technologies in the classroom is helping students to interactively develop joint attention skills, social skills, and executive functioning skills, while simultaneously reducing anxiety among students. With VR, students can fully experience an environment without the logistics of a field trip. Teachers can take students to Washington, D.C., the Coliseum in Rome, or the Great Wall of China. In addition, AR allows students to manipulate and interact with objects, appealing to multiple sensory functions. And by excluding outside factors for students, VR headsets can better engage students and hold their attention.
AR/VR technology is making inroads into the home as well, and its impact is widening beyond gaming and entertainment. For example, AR is completely revolutionizing the home renovation experience. Already, several platforms are leveraging this technology to allow those renovating or redecorating a home to essentially sample materials and furniture before the purchase is made. Users are empowered to see their plans come to life simply by using a phone app. The AR applications are detailed when sizing furniture and materials, so users can assess not only the look of objects, but the fit as well.
While AR is helping homeowners reimagine their spaces, VR is being called upon to assist with more potentially dangerous projects. In fact, some home improvement retailers are now employing the technology to give shoppers a fully immersive experience with equipment before the purchase is made. Those interested in power tools and complex machinery have the option to test-drive the equipment to better understand the tools and gauge their own capabilities. The convincing simulations incorporate the feeling and vibrations of trimming hedges in the yard. Virtual reality technology is being used to educate shoppers to ultimately reduce at-home accidents.
The benefits of augmented and virtual reality extend far beyond the classroom and the home. Globally, VR technology is being used to simulate a variety of dangerous combat situations for trainees. As an example, the 334th Training Squadron recently held the first VR training at Keesler Air Force Base. The training leveraged a VR classroom to teach airfield maintenance to the students. With VR, instructors have the tools to demonstrate complex concepts, allowing the airmen to experience a more comprehensive lesson. Training scenarios are now comprised of simulations, recreating an airfield fully equipped with real-life hazards. This type of learning can be far more effective and efficient compared to traditional lectures.
The process of learning is changing. Educational videos, mobile flashcard apps, and online tutors make learning available anywhere your mobile device goes. And technologies like augmented and virtual reality deliver interactive learning experiences for those in the classroom, at home, and everywhere in between.
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