New Realities in Education

Author: Eric Placek - December 2, 2020

Students use smartphones with AR technology to observe a dinosaur in its prehistoric environment.

AR and VR technologies are being put to use in the classroom.

If you have followed technology news in recent years, or even if you have just seen a few headlines, there is a good chance you are familiar with the acronyms AR and VR. These technologies have often been connected to video games and other entertainment experiences, but there are emerging applications for AR and VR in the classroom as well.

What Is AR and VR?

AR stands for augmented reality. Augmented reality technology adds digital features and images to your live view and surroundings via a camera. Popular examples of AR experiences are the smartphone game Pokemon Go and Snapchat filters.

VR stands for virtual reality. Virtual reality completely replaces your vision and places you in a computer-generated world. VR technologies involve sensory equipment, such as headsets that cover the eyes and sometimes gloves that allow the user to interact with the digital environment.

To simplify, think of AR as adding a layer onto your reality and VR as totally replacing your reality with a new one.

AR and VR in the Classroom

But what connects AR and VR to education? What do these technologies bring to the classroom? 

Some believe that AR and VR can help students learn more effectively through their ability to engage students in ways traditional methods cannot. Instead of looking at illustrations of dinosaurs in a textbook, students can use AR technology to get an up-close look at three-dimensional dinosaurs in action. Instead of reading about life in ancient Rome, students can use VR headsets to immerse themselves in a reality and explore a virtual simulation of a Roman villa.

The effectiveness of AR and VR education will take more time to fully evaluate, but there seems to be examples of successful implementation of the technology in certain areas. Dr. Narendra Kini, CEO at Miami Children’s Health System, incorporated VR learning into the training of medical students. According to Dr. Kini, traditional training typically results in a twenty percent retention rate of material after one week. She found that VR training led to retention rates as high as eighty percent after one year.

Despite its promise, there are definite questions and concerns about AR and VR in education. One of the biggest issues is access to the technology. The high cost of putting AR and VR into classrooms can make it difficult for schools to acquire the necessary hardware to integrate AR and VR into their teaching. Another criticism of AR and VR is that they do not help develop social and interpersonal skills. A VR experience is usually just between the user and the software. Some believe this method of learning could be at the expense of relationships among students and with the teacher. Other areas of concern are with a lack of flexibility in the technology and time lost to performance errors.

Time will tell whether AR and VR become a mainstay in classrooms. Until then, CSA Education will continue to watch and research in order to be prepared for whatever the future of education brings.

To learn more about CSA Education’s work, please email us at info@csaedu.com.

Dialani, P. (2020, January 18). Extended Reality Enhancing Healthcare Industry. Retrieved September 24, 2020, from https://www.analyticsinsight.net/extended-reality-enhancing-healthcare-industry/

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