Creative Ways to Bring Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality Into the Classroom
Today’s classrooms are evolving, and to keep tech-savvy children engaged in the classroom, more and more educators are looking into how to adopt new learning tools into their teaching strategy. If you plan to teach at the elementary school or high school level, chances are you’ve been hearing about virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) and how this technology can transform the classroom experience for students. As someone preparing to earn a teaching degree, now is a great time to learn more about how VR and AR may impact your education career.
What are VR and AR?
AR is the adding of digital content to what we see around us to augment our real-world view, often with a camera or smartphone. VR, on the other hand, is the use of devices—such as headsets with audio and video technology—to create a fully immersive experience. Mixed reality (MR) combines AR and VR technologies to create an experience where the real and digital worlds interact1.
These technologies have improved dramatically in recent years, and with that so have sales. According to the Consumer Technology Association, sales of VR/AR headsets and eyewear in 2018 are expected to jump by 25% over the previous year and revenues of these products in the U.S. are set to hit $1.2 billion2.
Not Just for Video Games
VR and AR technologies have been largely driven by the booming gaming industry, but these new tools are increasingly being used for applications such as communication, employee training, virtual showrooms for retailers, and for touring homes. Now this tech is being incorporated into the classroom by educators.
While only 2% of teachers have reported using VR in the classroom, in a 2016 survey 60% of teachers said they’d be interested in including VR in the classroom. In addition, 93% said their students would be excited to use VR and 83% said that VR might help improve learning outcomes3. By bringing learning to life, VR technology has the potential to enhance the way students learn and to change the job of any educator with a teacher certification in elementary education and beyond.
Supplementing Course Curriculum
From promoting understanding of learning concepts to increasing collaboration to improving motivation in the classroom, teachers have high hopes for the ways that VR can impact the learning experience for students. In a 2016 study of 40 high school students, supplementing classes with VR-enhanced curriculum led to improved student learning, test scores, learning comprehension, and retention4. In addition, students in the VR learning group outperformed those in the traditional learning group. The use of a VR-based curriculum also helped students with below average academic performance bring up their grades, proving that the technology can be an important addition to teaching strategy in traditional education settings. For visual learners and students with learning challenges, VR could become a valuable addition to the classroom experience.
Virtual Field Trips
There’s an entire world outside of the classroom, and VR and AR technologies have proven to be useful tools that students can use to simulate learning scenarios and interactions with people and places that are out of reach. Another great application for VR technology is its use for virtual field trips, to help students visit faraway and inaccessible places. Google Expeditions, for example, offers teachers the opportunity to take their students on immersive, virtual journeys to places such as coral reefs, Machu Picchu, Antarctica, or even the surface of Mars5. By simulating environments, VR offers a unique way to teach science concepts, support students’ curiosity, increase engagement, and provide new experiences.
VR and AR technologies don’t just promise a new experience for students. Today, teachers can use VR and AR for training, conducting lessons in front of virtual classrooms to help them gain the skills and confidence to improve their teaching strategy. Such simulation lets teachers test out new lesson material and better their classroom management skills, and offers student-teachers a virtual taste of working in a classroom setting.
Become the Teacher of the Future
It’s an exciting time to become a certified teacher, and at Walden University you can start your education career by earning a BS in Elementary Education online. To teach in most public schools in the U.S., you’ll need a teaching certification, and online schools offer a great way to earn your college degree with a flexible and convenient learning format. Along with online classes, Walden’s elementary education program includes supervised in-person field placements and demonstration classroom teaching.
If you’re interested in using VR and AR in the classroom, Walden’s BS in Elementary Education coursework explores ways to integrate technology into K–6 classrooms. With a teaching degree, you can gain the skills and knowledge to promote children’s learning and development, creating the next generation of life long learners.
Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.
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