THE BLOG

Virtual Reality And Education

31/08/2016 13:04 | Updated 01 September 2016

Almost half of all students in Primary school are failing to achieve adequate levels of understanding and ability in Maths, English and Science, according to 2015 analysis from the think-tank CentreForum and research body Education Datalab.

The findings have left parents outraged, teachers stumped and children, well, 43% less intelligent.

Lots of suggestions have been put forward as to how to get kids learning more, but in a world where it is much more interesting to play computer games and google everything, finding a solution is not as easy as you would hope.

So what if gaming and digital media could be used to make learning cool again? One system is doing just that. Virtual Reality (VR), a 3D generator of environments in 360 degree visuals, is preparing to become the newest education tool that puts the days of textbooks and pencil and paper to bed.

It is no surprise that Google have taken the VR-education challenge on, not only building software that both informs and engages, but also creating the Google Cardboard, an affordable VR viewer for smart phones. Expedition, a software which gives students an insight into other countries and realities, shows 150 different environments from 14th Century Verona, Italy, to the Great Wall of China. The project takes life and geography education out of the classroom and into never seen before worlds.

Tech start-up company Discovr are developing VR software, revealing they've found an 80% increase in subject retention for Virtual Reality based education compared with usual teaching methods like reading and writing.

Another VR platform for education set to take the world by storm is an experimental app called Artificial Intelligence (Al). It creates avatars and processes language in a way similar to social media platforms like Facebook, to test users with questions which require actively searching for answers. By posing questions, a 'conversation' is built, with the system choosing the most appropriate next question from the answer. The game also gives direct feedback and allows teachers to track each student's progress so if they are struggling, they can be given the additional support necessary, instead of hiding at the back of the class.

VR can be used to educate more than just the basic school subjects. What sets it apart from other technologies is the ability it has to directly take you out of your own world, and place you into someone else's point of view. This has proved a very useful tool for conveying certain messages and changing opinions.

Global drinks company Diageo have started building a platform to demonstrate how driving under the influence of alcohol can have detrimental consequences. Using information collected from interviews with people actually affected by drink driving, it places a user wearing a VR headset into the passenger seat of a car with a drunk driver. It renders the user helpless and trapped in the event as it unfolds. Highlighting the severity of the consequences intends to discourage young people, the newest drivers and usually the most vulnerable, from drink-driving or wrongly assuming getting a lift with a drunk driver will "probably be fine".

Having seen some examples of how Virtual Reality is already being used to educate the man and the masses it cannot be argued that this technology is at the forefront of digital innovation and could be a serious game changer for life in and out of work. Perhaps all businesses need to be adopting the technology as soon as possible, to stay ahead of the new generation, growing up with VR in the palm of their hand.

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