1. VR is learning by doing
VR allows learners to move throughout virtual environments freely. Just like in real life, where we can move back and forth, interact with objects around us, understand the mechanism of how things function and operate within our surroundings. Similarly, we can replicate such actions in VR and move around either in 3DOF or 6DOF or what is otherwise known as degrees of freedom, which describes bodily movement in three-dimensional space.
Simply put, DOF refers to the movement of the head in space. There are VR headsets in the market that offer 3DOF (3 Degrees of Freedom), which allows a user to move the head in three directions; Pitch, moving the head forward and backwards on the X-axis, Yaw, turning head left and right on the Y-axis, and Roll, tilting head side to side on the Z-axis. More advanced VR headsets provide 6DOF’s, which come with three different movements; Sway, move the body left to right on the X-axis, Heave, move up and down on the Y-axis, and Surge, move forward and backward on the Z-axis.
2. VR enables better recall
According to this research study, when a student is distracted during learning, their brain stores less information and is therefore less able to recall the lesson. Since VR isolates from the distractions of the real world, students are more likely to focus on the content and comprehend the concepts in a meaningful way, enabling students to recall information even after months have passed. This is compounded as VR provides a mix of visual and kinaesthetic experiences, better engaging students focus.
3. VR provides a safe environment for learning.
One of the best things about VR in higher education is that it provides a safe environment for students to practice new skills on loop without the fear of getting injured or making errors. Think of skilled trades like welding, electrical, or carpentry, which are primarily physical and sometimes unsafe jobs. These jobs can be safely practised in a virtual environment to gain confidence and skills before working in the real world. On the other hand, some jobs may be physically safe but are instead emotionally challenging, like teaching, sales, counseling, and human resources, to name a few. To succeed in the abovementioned roles, employees need interpersonal skills such as a calm demeanour, problem-solving mindset and strong verbal communication. In VR, an employee can be taught these interpersonal skills through realistic simulation using digital avatars driven by AI to replicate real-life use cases to help employees handle different situations.
A great example of this is how leaders have been using Ovation to become better public speakers.
Ovation allows learning institutions and organizations to develop communication skills of the learners using Virtual Reality headsets or desktop computers. One of the best features of Ovation software is that you can choose more than a dozen VR environments and speak to hundreds of virtual avatars who clap, smile and generally react to what you say. You can also get real time feedback based on your speech and interaction with the audience. For example, are you speaking too fast or too slow or are you using too many crutch words? It can also pick up visual cues of your hand movements while delivering a presentation or speech.
4. VR is Cost-Effective
Educators around the world enjoy organizing field trips for students to enable effective first-hand learning. However, for many colleges/universities, field trips are proving to be a challenge, as it can involve additional costs like transportation, venue selection and sometimes even accommodation. With VR, organizations can eliminate this cost by replicating the field trips in a virtual setting, allowing students to visit independently and for as long as they or their professor would like.
For example, the National Gallery of Art, which serves as a center of visual art, education, and culture, provides learners the opportunity to explore people, architecture and art across history. In addition, UPM Forest Life provides customizable virtual field trips to the forest of Finland, where learners around the world can learn about climate change and sustainability from their classrooms or home.
5. VR provides Physical Presence
VR provides a highly immersive experience. According to Jeremy Bailenson of the Stanford Virtual Human Interaction Lab, ‘Presence is sine qua non of VR’ or an essential part of VR. He further states that, in effective VR, individuals’ motor and perceptual functions interpret virtual environments to be generally the same as physical reality. The greater the presence, higher are the chances for students to remain engaged within the virtual learning environment. The higher the engagement the better students will be able to comprehend the concepts, understand how it functions and replicate the learnings in the real world.
According to this study by PWC on the role of VR in soft skills training, it was found that VR based learners were 4 times more focused than their classroom colleagues. Additionally, as per the study, when learners are focused, they tend to remember things for a long time and comprehend information better.
6. VR enhances students’ confidence
Imagine a situation where policing trainees can visit a virtual crime scene to learn how to collect, preserve, photograph pieces of evidence, and practice until they become confident to execute their learnings in a real-life environment. Virtual Reality allows students to practice things beforehand, become familiar with the concepts or surroundings and develop strong muscle memory through repetition. With VR, educators can take students to different situations, places and environments. This way, students can expand their academic knowledge and practice skills until they learn to react properly, behave and apply these learnings in a life-like environment.
7. Virtual Reality can help learners be more empathetic
Unlike traditional modes of learning like video and text, virtual reality can evoke emotional responses. It allows learners to step into someone else’s world and understand their situation in a meaningful way. According to the PWC’s soft skills study, learners understand better when their emotions are involved. The study found that VR-learners felt 3.75 times more emotionally connected to the content than classroom learners and 2.3 times more connected than online learners. To know more about how VR can help learners be more empathetic, read our case study: High Seas
8. Virtual Reality is portable and friendly to use
Over the years, VR headsets have had plenty of design iterations. Most notably, from tethered to standalone. VR is now more portable than ever before. You might be thinking what’s the difference between a tethered and a standalone VR headset? Don’t worry, we are here to help you with it. A tethered VR PC headset has wider capabilities than a standalone VR headset; however, it involves a lot of wires and additional devices, including a powerful computer, to set up the system and experience the content. On the other hand, a standalone headset doesn’t require wire management or a constant connection with a powerful computer and external sensor to control the user’s movement.
The portable nature of the newer VR headsets allow learners to learn from the comfort of their own home and engage with their peers in the same virtual environment. Students have better control over what they see. This way, they can learn a particular module at their own pace and time. For example, in a situation like COVID19, many students who might have enrolled for a distance learning program can enter the virtual environment, using a standalone VR headset, within a few seconds and continue their education.
If you want to know more about various headsets and their features, you can read more about them over here. To know which headset is suitable for your institution/college, you can drop us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our VR eXperts would be happy to help you.
9. Analyzing Students Performances
VR combined with eye-tracking capabilities allows educators to analyze students behaviours and reactions toward a learning module. With an eye-tracking enabled VR headset, educators can record and analyze participants’ visual attention every time they move inside a virtual environment. For example, an eye-tracking enabled VR headset answers questions like, how long does it take for students to react/respond to the simulation? Have they completed the simulation?
If you want to get a deeper understanding of students’ behaviours, then you can add biometric devices. It allows educators to capture involuntary muscle movements like heart rate, gaze, emotional state, stress level and other key performance indicators. VR and other biometric devices can play a significant role in analyzing students’ performances during training, especially for emotionally challenging functions like customer service, business development, and career counselling.
10. 21st century skills for 21st century students
Emerging technologies such as AI, Drones, Blockchain and VR/AR are opening up new job opportunities for students around the world. Implementing these technologies across various colleges/universities would help students be more engaged and productive, and in the long run help them select a career they are more passionate about. As Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in the 2018 World Economic Forum in Davos, “The pace of change has never been this fast, yet it will never be this slow again.” It is therefore imperative for educators around the world to prepare their students’ for such an unpredictable future of work.
For example, XpertVR’s crime scene investigation simulation developed in collaboration with Conestoga college is helping students learn investigative skills, which would help them prepare themselves for real life scenarios.
The pace of disruption in the job market requires trainees and employees to upskill themselves. Change is inevitable, so it is pivotal to update, innovate, experiment and learn as fast as possible. Undoubtedly, in a situation like these, VR is the best suited digital tool for educators to train their students, as it can replicate important skills for the job required at the moment and in the next few years.
If you are an educator or a professor at an institution/college looking to implementing VR learning in your classroom to teach students career-related skills, then you can reach out to us at email@example.com, where our experts will guide you in your VR journey from content creation to setting up a VR lab.