Grab your virtual reality (VR) headset and get to class…maths class that is. As the digitization of education, learning and training progresses, innovative technologies, such as virtual reality are making it possible to cater to the learner’s preferences.
“We need to use technology to improve access to education and tailor education for everyone,” says Erlend Overby who leads IEC and ISO work to develop international standards in the area of IT for learning, education and training (ITLET).
VR in schools
People learn in different ways. Some are more visual and find it easier to digest information when it is in a video or infographic format, rather than reams of text. They also learn more effectively by doing and interacting, not just listening passively to the teacher talking, but by trying out the process themselves. Some students excel at maths when it is presented to them as a VR game, while science students see the body in a new light, from within, at cellular level, using 3D models, which can be moved around and viewed from entirely new perspectives. You can “experience” a phenomenon instead of just reading about it.
VR makes on-the-job training more real and meaningful
There are plenty of situations in which VR technology is preparing workers to do their jobs better and more safely.
For instance, emergency service responders, who are first to arrive on the scene after natural or man-made disasters or disease outbreaks, are being trained with VR programmes.
Instead of being told how to respond to an emergency and memorizing check lists by heart, in a completely removed context, they can immerse right into a simulated but very life-like disaster situation using a VR headset. This means they must live it as if they were there, and make split decisions, based on the evolving scenario, which could mean the difference between life and death. They can practice as many times as they like, without anyone getting hurt. Some programmes also offer user assessments, which can pinpoint areas where more work needs to be done.
VR is used to train surgeons who must perform complex operations. They can practice on virtual images or 3D printed body parts of particular patient and some programmes even have haptic features which create the sensation of pressure felt when cutting or drilling during surgery.
Standards can help address some of the challenges
Innovative technologies, such as IoT, artificial intelligence (AI) and VR are bringing many new opportunities and benefits to educators and learners alike. On the flip side, there are some issues that need to be addressed now.
As more personal data is collected and used also in education software and online learning, there will be the need to ensure security and privacy.
If people are role playing as part of their learning experience and create different personas, for example someone is to play the role of a terrorist and someone is playing the one responding to an attack, if the terrorist persona were to be hacked and misused, it could have serious implications in real life for the person who was playing the terrorist role during the training. It would be unfortunate if a lack of privacy and security influences the peodagogical models chosen by the teachers.
“This is a great example of why we need to keep privacy and security of education methods in the education space, so we are developing international standards which will cover these aspects,” says Overby.
Another challenge is to enable a quality education for all, regardless of geographic location, economic background, gender, age or physical ability.
Read the full interview in e-tech.