Virtual Reality’s Impact on Education

Abigail Sellars

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Ever heard the phrase “seeing is believing”? Many people are visual learners, meaning they learn best by seeing things done, rather than just reading about them or taking notes from lecturers. Take Science or Astrology for example. Most schools can’t afford to send their students to the moon. This is to be expected, of course, unless the school has a billion dollars just lying around. But what if students could visit the moon from the safety of their classrooms?

Josh Patterson explains why he thinks VR would be beneficial to students in a school environment. “Virtual reality lessons would allow students to see things up close, like the Civil War in History. It could get students more excited to learn. Or, in Science, students could explore the surfaces of far-off planets.” Fiona Verrinder agrees with these reasons, and adds that “In Science, students could look through the body system as if they were on the Magic School Bus.” Fiona and Josh both agree that History and Science would benefit the most from the addition of VR to their classrooms. Fiona adds a subject to this list. “In ELA, students could listen to a teacher read a book aloud while they watch the animated version of the book in VR.”

So, we’ve looked at possible uses and benefits of VR in education. But everything has its ups and downs, so what are some negative effects this technology brings to the table? Josh reminds us that we’re dealing with kids here and that not all of them can handle technology correctly. “If VR was used in classes, there would always be that one kid who would mess it up for everyone. Maybe they’d break something or make all the headsets unusable. Maybe they’d mess around the whole time, and overreact to everything.” Some students already do similar things in their classes with movies, games, and any other activities given. As Josh said, there is usually one student who gets this privilege taken away from the entire class, unfortunately ruining the experience for everyone involved.

Fiona mentions another possible negative effect of using VR: Motion sickness, or “VR sickness.” Some people are more susceptible to feeling nausea from prolonged exposure to virtual reality than others. Those who are prone may experience symptoms similar to motion sickness, like headaches and dizziness. This could cause problems in the classroom for those unable to handle it.

Speaking of sickness, Fiona is often sick and therefore often unable to attend school. This has prevented her from attending the end-of-year incentive for those with good attendance. When asked if she would, if provided, use a VR system to attend school from home when sick, she answered “Oh, definitely! That would help a lot. Sick kids want an education, too!” A downside to this, however, is that going to school in person may become irrelevant if this system is used too often.

As always, money- or rather, the lack of- is a big problem in school. Buying 20-30 high-quality headsets would be very expensive. To get around this, the school could get simpler ones, such as cardboard versions like Google’s “Google Cardboard” for around $10 each, as opposed to the more expensive headsets going for around $30 or even $80 each. Or, they could buy one high-quality headset per class and allow one student to use it at a time. These are not the only actions a school could take with VR, of course. These are mere suggestions. The possibilities are practically endless with this new technology.

So, in conclusion, VR would likely make teaching a more fun and interactive experience both for students and teachers. The technology could keep students interested and excited to learn, as Josh mentioned previously. Though VR has many benefits, it does not come without its imperfections, such as price, management, and potentially irresponsible student use of the technology.

Would you like to see VR used in your school? Tell us in the comments below!

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