How Virtual Reality Can Lead to an A+

People just don’t find in-person learning helpful anymore. Ask the quarter of second-year medical students who no longer attend classes because of increased dissatisfaction and anxiety with traditional teaching methods. They don’t retain information as effectively, and the learning is often inconsistent in quality due to human error. Virtual reality is already changing the way people interact with learning, leading to improved retention rates, increased engagement levels, and even more corollary benefits.

Benefits of a Virtual Education

93% of all human communication is visual and people only have an average attention span of 8 seconds. Let that sink in and use this information to guide your thoughts as we explain why VR needs to be implemented in today’s educational methods, immediately.

Accelerated Student Learning

It’s based on the same format of fact memorization and often causes students to become overwhelmed at the amount of information under a tight timeline. Learning through just reading limits the student. Using Virtual Reality for learning purposes allows the user to visualize and perform the task at hand in an environment with little to no actual risk.
Learning is traditionally done through books and, while they’re interesting, people just don’t have the time, energy or patience to read them.
A study in China tested a classroom of students to see whether VR accelerates student learning. They found that students who used VR to learn scored, on average, 27.4% better on a test taken immediately after learning. They scored 32.4% better after two weeks.

If that surprises you, even students who scored the lowest traditionally scored 15.8% better after VR learning as compared to traditional learning students. They were able to immerse themselves in the information faster, but also retain it longer. This resulted in them being able to do significantly better than the non-VR group in the long term.

Provides a Safe Learning Environment

Students feel more comfortable in an environment where failure doesn’t hold much power. They are learning in a safe and controlled world, which promotes faster learning and improvements.
Through the design of an appropriate controlled environment, students are afforded a better opportunity to consider their options and solve the problems at hand.
Students are given an uninterrupted chance to take their time, understand their surroundings, and use that understanding to come up with informed solutions to their problems.

Bridges the Gap Between Theory and Practice

In Frontiers in Psychology, researchers tested the relationship between immersive VR and learning about Climate change. At the end of the test, the researchers concluded that students who were immersed in the media they were learning from were able to retain more information. Specifically, “the more that people reported being attuned to the virtual environment…the more that they learned in immersive VR, felt connected to nature, and reported environmental concern.”

In addition, those who explored more of the virtual world formed deeper cognitive associations with the learning material and were able to learn, recall and retain more of the information than the rest of their peers.

Remember the study in China we spoke about earlier? If those results shocked you, you’re in for another surprise. Even students who scored the lowest traditionally scored 15.8% better after VR learning as compared to traditional learning students.
VR can be a fun way to learn, offering students a way to get through class and retain what they’ve learned
The students who used to perform poorly were able to successfully and deeply immerse themselves in the learning and interact with it. There was no real pressure to learn. It all happened naturally because the experience was organic and enjoyable.

William Winn, an advocate of VR learning, had a point when he said, “VR promotes the best and probably only strategy that allows students to learn from non-symbolic first-person experience.” 

VR goes past the symbols that are used to teach and straight to the core concepts of what they are being taught. While the symbolism may get confusing for some, understanding the concept that the symbol is derived from eliminates the middleman and can be much easier to grasp.

Improve Student Engagement Levels

Imagine being able to interpret students’ interactions with a lesson in real-time and drive the remainder of the lesson according to the direction that student took during the simulation. Using this method, teachers can tailor the experience and lesson to promote more learning for all, in turn enriching and further immersing students.

Immersive learning environments can be interesting, keep people’s attention longer, and provide a fun way to learn – one that doesn’t even feel like learning. At its core, retention means engagement. When VR immersion improves learning retention four times more than traditional methods of learning, it’s also improving engagement levels.

Promote and Improve Soft Skill Development for Growth and Success

Teamwork, leadership, problem solving, and communication are just some of the soft skills VR can promote and improve. These skills are essential to one’s growth and success as they navigate schooling, work, and life in general.

E-Learning – What’s Missing?

Traditional methods of e-learning only scratch the surface when it comes to giving students access to others for the chance to socialize. Plus, even if there is a chance to communicate with others, there’s no real incentive to actually do it.
Take e-learning to the next step by providing almost physical incentives to completing tasks and socializing with others
VR systems are so flexible in being able to provide a variety of learning options. Educators can even integrate avatar usage into applications, so students can interact with one another using body language – like high fiving each other within their virtual world - voice and other human aspects to create a more organic experience.

Socializing Through VR

Virtual realities open the door for completing group work in a way that avoids group think and promotes individuality. This study allowed teachers to teach the Chinese language and culture to their students by designing collaborative activities in the virtual world, Second Life.
VR is a great way to travel to, explore new destinations, and attend classes in groups while promoting individuality, when one does not have the ability to go out and actually do any of those things
The VR learning experience offers new approaches to constant and positive reinforcements where individual and collective rewards require the team to work together in order to benefit from the work.

Students feel less embarrassed throughout the learning practice, show improved social interactions between one another, and learn at their own pace. By attending the same classes together in a world that supports individuality and risk-taking, students can learn more. And effectively retain information to make educated decisions in the future.

VR Learning Used IRL

VR is already being successfully implemented in learning environments by some of the world’s leading companies and industries.  It is proving to be an incentivizing and effective way of learning at:

Google Expeditions

Google Expeditions is expanding classrooms’ boundaries, using VR and AR to bring concepts to life and inspiring students’ creativity and imagination. With over 600 virtual tours to choose from, the world is now at students’ fingertips and learning opportunities are endless.

Unimersiv

Students can visualize what they’re learning with Unimersiv’s applications. Visually appealing tours help both teachers and students by creating introducing a “physical” space which both parties can interact with, create a better understanding of, and teach from.

Cartier

Cartier is revolutionizing their onboarding training by teaching employees how to appropriately and safely navigate a robbery. They are reducing employee risk and promoting safety standards by immersing their employees in a normally dangerous experience.

US Department of Education

The United States Department of Education’s Office of Special Education and Programs is helping kids with autism nurture social skills at their own pace. Once students experience the numerous simulations, they are then able to use what they learned in the real-world to effectively socialize with their peers.  Virtual realities are a doorway to improved learning and increased retention rates for students of all ages and learning levels. By offering an immersive, entertaining way to learn that also promotes learning at one’s own pace, VR is enabling comfortable learning environments that cater to the unique needs of individuals With the technology becoming affordable to even small companies, it’s worth trying out and seeing for yourself the improvements VR can make on your learning community.

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