Photo Courtesy of AP Images
BY ALEXIA MERSOLA
Virtual reality, although initially is highly targeted to games (it was born for the video game industry), it can have a big space in education and training, as it is very immersive (it gives way to immersive learning). It allows you to enter a 360º video shot or created 3D immersive environment.
Virtual Reality took what has probably been its biggest step towards public recognition when Facebook bought the Oculus Rift, which had its consumer release in 2016. The Oculus Rift provides High Quality VR for about $500. Another popular high end offering is the HTC Vive, which typically costs a couple hundred dollars more.
On the other end of the spectrum, there is Google Cardboard which is dirt cheap (only $10-$15 or so), but the experience is pretty weak. Regardless, many K-12 schools have been using Google Cardboard as an affordable introduction to the world of VR. The specific applications of VR in the education space are too numerous to list. The potential is enormous, the technology has attracted the attention of education industry thought leaders and an enormous amount of creativity and energy is already directed at bringing VR to the classroom. A few programs have jumped on board along with creators of VR gear to help create a new and exciting way to experience education.
Unimersiv, is available for Oculus Rift and Samsung Gear VR headhunted displays and the app promises a new educational experience each month. Some of these experience include traveling to Stonehenge the international space station or inside the human body. Nearpod, is a low cost option for schools who simply do not have the financial resources to purchase the more high end VR sets for it is partnered with Google Cardboard, which relies on ordinary smartphones to provide a VR experience. Neared has created lesson plans ranging from the Egyptian Pyramids to the Great Barrier Reef and even Mars. The tours are built from high quality panoramic images with educational narration, text and study materials added. This was built from the ground up to serve the public school sector.
One of the most exciting aspects of VR is its ability to bring people together, regardless of geographical distances. All of the experiences,tutorial videos, and learning apps that are appearing every day would work just as well whether the teacher and student are in the same room, or across the world from each other.People learn better by doing, yes, but they learn even more important lessons by interacting with each other. By allowing people to interact with each other from across the world in a natural in fun way through VR, it has the potential to transform the educational world forever.